Published by Forever Yours on November 14th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Miss Mary Whitsun is far too intelligent to fall for the rakish charms of a handsome aristocrat. But when the gentleman in question approaches her in a bookshop, mistaking her for his fiancée, Lady Johanna Albright, the flirtatious encounter only raises more questions. Could Mary, a servant raised in a St Giles orphanage, actually be Lady Joanna's long-lost twin sister? If so, Mary has been betrothed since birth—to the rakishly handsome artistocrat himself.
Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell, is far too intrigued by Mary to let her go so easily. He's drawn to her sharp mind, indomitable spirit, and the fiery way in which she dismisses him—ladies simply don't dismiss Lord Blackwell. But as Mary makes her first hesitant steps into society, she can't help but wonder if she truly has a place in Henry's world—or in his heart.
~~Reviewed by Amy~~
I think most, if not all, romance readers grew up in love with fairy tales. Those stories that awaken us to the magic of love. The kind of love that makes everything else fade away. Where good wins out and our heroine and hero live happily ever after. As I’ve grown older, I still want those kinds of stories, just a little more grown-up version with characters and plots that are written much more in-depth than those favorites of my youth. This Maiden Lane novella has that Cinderella twist to it but it’s so much more. This one is filled with sexy and sweet moments and a few twists and surprises too.
Mary Whitsun, a maidservant to Lady Temperance Claire, is a little distrustful when she notices an attractive, aristocratic gentleman watching her in the bookstore. And when said gentleman approaches her insisting she’s his fiancé, she’s certain he’s toying with her and flees. But the next day, that same gentleman, Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell, accompanied by the Dowager Marchioness of Durnham and the Countess of Angrove, arrive at her home. They announce that Mary is the spitting image of Lady Joanna Allbright. Could Mary be Joanna’s twin, Cecilia, who was kidnapped as an infant and never seen again? Mary thought the whole idea absurd, but evidently, the dowager, marchioness, and viscount did not. They immediately made plans to prepare Mary for her introduction to society, and as first-born twin, to become Viscount Blackwell’s wife.
And so over the next few weeks, Mary found herself thrust into a whirlwind of activities. Dancing lessons, dress fittings, lessons in etiquette. All the training Mary would need to enter society. All the proprieties that were never even thought about when she was a maidservant mattered a great deal now. Mary felt much like Alice must have felt after falling down the rabbit hole. Lord Blackwell was the only thing that kept her from utter panic. During those weeks they’d gotten to know some about each other. Mary discovered he wasn’t the rake she’d first thought him to be. He was handsome, thoughtful, and noble. And he had faith in her. Henry was taken with Mary as well. He’d not been keen on marrying Joanna, a betrothal arranged at birth. Joanna was sweet and silly, and was more like a sister to Henry. But Mary was different. She had fire. She matched his wit and interests. They didn’t just enjoy each other’s company, they were quite attracted too. And when they kissed, the sensations were overwhelming. Mary was starting to believe she was in a fairy tale come true. But just as Mary’s new life was starting to take shape, it seems someone still wants Lady Cecilia Allbright to disappear.
For a novella, this story packs a punch. I loved that the story moved at a fast pace yet Henry and Mary’s budding relationship never felt rushed. I adored their “getting to know you” game because it revealed so much to me about them. Mary had accepted her circumstances of her birth and felt rather overwhelmed in her new circumstances. Even dressed in finery, she still felt like Mary. Not Lady Cecilia. Plus, the feelings she was having for Henry were new and exciting. I loved watching her let down her guard more and more with him and even actually flirting. She enjoyed Henry’s attentions and, after years of taking care of herself, it was lovely to have someone want to take care of her. Henry was a true charmer. I loved him from the start. I liked watching his character grow. His father was the one pushing the marriage, but Henry cared more for Mary’s happiness than for appeasing his father. I cheered when Henry finally stood up to him. Henry learned a lot about the way of the world too. He’d never considered how others lived until he saw both sides of Mary’s life.
The mystery and danger really added to the story too. Did someone want to kill Mary or were they after Henry? Who would want to kill them and why? There were several possibilities and Miss Hoyt kept me guessing till the very end.
This Maiden Lane series never gets old. Miss Hoyt has a real talent for bringing in old favorites from previous books but still delivering a fresh, unique story. There’s nothing predictable or formulaic about it. I can’t wait to see what surprises she has in store next.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of this book.