When even your mistress approves of your fiancee, you know you’ve found the right woman.
Constantine, Marquis of Kenilworth, is a classic gentleman: he takes care of his obligations to family and the House of Lords, and his life is “exactly as he wishe[s] it to be,” which is to say, he has a mistress, Aimée. But after he’s pressed into rescuing Lady Charlotte Carpenter from a kidnapping and the two are seen together, they must pretend to be betrothed to protect her reputation, upending both of their elegant lives. Every woman who cares for Con thinks Charlotte is a good match—even Aimée. Charlotte, however, is unconvinced, and an argument over his relationships with courtesans early in their betrothal means Constantine has to overhaul his life in order to win Charlotte’s affections—which becomes even more difficult after she is kidnapped again. The fourth entry in Quinn’s The Worthingtons series brings one of historical romance’s most raucously lovable families back to the page, and it plays a key role. Since Charlotte and Con are engaged early in the book, the tension of the story derives not from whether they’ll marry but whether they’ll be happy about it, and Quinn builds that tension through a skillful exploration of the real social pressures facing women in 1815. Of particular note is Quinn’s nuanced approach to the issue of prostitution in the Regency era. Where other historical romances have used mistresses as plot points rather than characters, Quinn, via Con’s awakening, explores the inequality behind the “choices” women make as well as the obliviousness of those who benefit from them. This subplot, combined with multiple kidnappings, secret family members, and a human trafficking ring, means the story can get a bit unwieldy and overcomplicated, but Con's and Charlotte’s earnest intelligence and chemistry will carry most readers past those hiccups.
A surprising Regency romance that combines intelligence and intrigue for satisfying results.