In Ferguson’s (Major Lord David, 2010, etc.) latest historical romance, an ailing lord falls in love with the woman who restores him to health.
After the loss at Waterloo, Myles Trent—Lord Hayden—takes refuge at Lake Como, his European tour cut short by the fevers that periodically rack his body. His constitution depleted, Myles is determined to return home as soon as possible. En route, he takes ill and recuperates in the village of Wiswood at the countryside home of Anne Whyte, master herbalist and healer. Although Anne’s patient has the appearance of a gentleman, Anne knows him only as “Mister Myles.” During Myles’ convalescence, the two flirt and come to know one another; Lord Hayden’s identity remains unknown to both Anne and her father. A local, Perry Wenfield, hopes to wed Anne, but she rebuffs his advances. Myles, growing ever more enamored, resents Wenfield’s presence in her life. Soon, Myles is well enough to return to his obligations in Braughton, which may include seeking a proper wife from the Birdwistle clan. But will Lord Hayden honor his heart or familial duty? This is an enchanting story, set shortly after Napoleon’s exile to St. Helena. True to Avalon form, heroine Anne is independent; she is accomplished in her use of remedies, with a library of texts and a garden full of herbs for her concoctions. She masterfully prescribes horehound drops for the throat, rosewater compresses for a feverish brow and valerian for sleep. Best friend Vera serves as a touchstone, helping a subdued Anne give voice to her growing feelings for Myles and her doubts that she is his equal in station. Although proud, Myles is at Anne’s mercy in more ways than one, and his extended convalescence provides ample time for mutual affection, respect and admiration to flourish at a steady pace. The narrative has an authentic period feel, with a well-developed subtext about discontent among farmers after the Napoleonic Wars; this undercurrent is artfully used to advance relations between Anne and Myles. The verbal exchanges between these two gentlefolk are a mix of subtlety and spark, and a pleasure to read.
Enticing plot, winning dialogue and genuine historical backdrop, as befits a Regency romance.