A nobly-born vicar and a wallflower find unlikely love in the Regency period, but both of them have scandalous secrets.
Leigh (Scandal Takes the Stage, 2015, etc.) excels in the third book of her Wicked Quills of London series about women writers. At 28, Jeremy Cleland is still very much under his father’s thumb. Jeremy has a modest living as a vicar in the small town of Rosemead, but he relies on an allowance from his formidable father, the Earl of Hutton, who was granted an earldom in recognition of his unshakeable morality. The Earl has made it clear that he expects Jeremy to be “better, more virtuous than an ordinary man.” That’s why Jeremy’s fondness for midnight swims and erotic novels must be kept quiet—and why it’s especially ironic when the Earl orders Jeremy to discover the secret identity of an author of wildly popular erotic novels. If Jeremy refuses or fails to identify the author, who calls herself the Lady of Dubious Quality, the Earl will cut off his allowance. It never occurs to Jeremy to refuse. One does not gainsay the Earl. Along the way, Jeremy is distracted from his quest by the daughter of a duke, a wallflower in her fifth season on London’s marriage market. But Lady Sarah Frampton has secret depths, too, and their competing quests and motivations cause the pair to hide their deepest selves from each other. The novel is well-paced, clever, and engaging, with nearly flawless prose and compelling characters. It could have been improved by more personal growth on Jeremy’s part. His transformation from the Earl’s lapdog to his wife’s intellectual and professional equal is a little too abrupt.
This page-turner can only help Leigh's career. Read it without delay.