A second-chance romance inaugurates a new Regency series about a family torn apart by lies and healed by love.
Devlin Ware, Viscount Mountford, is the favored heir of a beloved aristocratic family. At his family's annual ball, he has just been granted the love of Gwyneth Rhys, the neighbor he has longed for all his life, and is preparing to approach her father for her hand when he discovers his father in a compromising position with a woman who must be his mistress. In indignation, Devlin tells his father to send the woman away, loud enough for many of their guests to hear—a performance that gets him banished from Ravenswood Hall, his idyllic home. The first part of the novel shows a perfect world that collapses, a bit implausibly, into heartbreak and separation; the second charts the exile’s return from active duty in the Napoleonic wars after his father's death and the unexpected way Gwyneth reknits their bond while Devlin learns that righteous morality, duty, love, and forgiveness need not be mutually exclusive. Some readers may view the primary romance as being consigned to a subplot while a lot of space is spent on a meticulous word-picture of the family seat and portraits of the many secondary characters who will take the lead in later books. But readers who appreciate Balogh’s skill at linking her characters’ inner lives, surroundings, and social ties will find many pleasures here. Themes from previous series reappear: Those who rooted for the head of the Bedwyn family will see echoes in the older Devlin’s frostiness, with the added bonus of the character’s point of view; fans of the Survivors’ Club series may sympathize with his experiences in the army; readers who liked the Huxtable family’s resilience in the aftermath of its patriarch’s bigamy will enjoy this twist on a similar problem; and those who remember the author’s Welsh romances will welcome Gwyneth and her family for returning us to Balogh’s roots. There is one off note: In an apparent bid to criticize fat-phobia, one character’s body is repeatedly mentioned in fat-phobic terms.
Romance with a side of poignant family dynamics and a large, intriguing cast.