From the desk of Katie Patchell:
I have been doing something unconventional lately, and I don’t just mean tanning in my front yard because of COVID-19. I’ve paused my habit of reading book summaries and back covers to ‘know what I’m getting into.’ Instead, I start with page one, immersing myself in the story and characters without any prior knowledge or expectations. As someone who enjoys her ‘prior knowledge,’ this is a big deal. Happily, I can say it’s been a successful experiment. There’s nothing like being surprised as a reader along with a novel’s heroine or hero. Without realizing it, my new method of reading novels is a perfect tribute to Sally Britton’s Rescuing Lord Inglewood and its themes of shattered expectations and wonderful surprises.
When Esther Fox takes her heartbroken neighbor for a walk to distract her from her failed romance, Esther doesn’t expect romance to hit her – literally – with the force of a falling statue. After throwing herself on a distracted passerby to save him from being crushed to death, she soon discovers two truths. The first is that the man she saved is none other than her older brother’s mischievous childhood friend, Silas, now a responsible (some would say, overly responsible) titled member of Parliament. The second truth is that the rumor mill has already almost destroyed her reputation, and with her only blood relative away fighting Napoleon, her marriage to Silas is unavoidable.
After their wedding, a series of misunderstandings, fears, and troublesome memories threaten to destroy what’s already been built on shaky ground. With every new twist and turn, Esther and Silas must decide if their marriage will remain a solution to a problem, or will grow into a partnership built on mutual trust and love.
What I enjoyed most about Rescuing Lord Inglewood was its host of surprises. Some were as large as an earthquake, some as small as raindrops on a still pond; all changed the landscape of this novel. This isn’t a typical story of a debt made and reputation saved by a marriage of convenience: Silas and Esther’s shared history made their rapid transition to husband and wife unique. As childhood friends through her brother, but no longer friends from their teenage years on, they were known to each other but yet unknown. This childhood connection would appear to make a marriage of convenience easier, but as I’ve learned, it’s often harder to get to know someone as an adult that I once knew as a child versus someone first met as an adult. Reliving the passage between childhood and adulthood is not for the faint of heart.
Most Regency novels with marriages of convenience have zero discomfort, or if so, it’s worked through quickly, like eating ice cream on a hot summer’s day. Not so with Rescuing Lord Inglewood: Sally Britton writes it so that her heroine and hero battle with discomfort in realistic, practical circumstances, such as learning to converse and court after the wedding instead of before. Esther and Silas’ innate desire for connection, comfort, and love paralleled bittersweet memories and acquaintance-level small talk. This created a profound awkwardness for much of the novel, and one that, it sounds cruel to say, I immensely enjoyed reading. I think they – and the reader – are better for it. There’s something profound, even moving, about witnessing a romance that evolves from something damaged into something beautiful.
The only thing that marred my complete enjoyment of Rescuing Lord Inglewood was Esther’s ever-fluctuating emotions. She was first introduced as a confident, funny woman of action, but after her marriage, she spent many pages trapped in her fear that history would repeat itself and that she’d be ignored again. I often wanted to give her a friendly shake–anything to get her to stop doubting herself and Silas! However, flashes of her original passion and humor returned, and I gained more sympathy for her as the novel progressed.
I mentioned earlier that I purposefully avoided looking up the plot of Rescuing Lord Inglewood beforehand. So, it will not come as a complete surprise to hear that I missed some exciting news: Rescuing Lord Inglewood is the first in a five-book series. Fans of Sarah M. Eden’s Jonquil brothers’ books will find something similar here. Each of the next four novels highlights characters from this book who are beloved siblings, lifelong friends, and even one very intriguing enemy. Overall, I strongly recommend Rescuing Lord Inglewood for your next “happy ending” quarantine read — its tale of depth, resiliency, and love found in unexpected places is exactly what our bookshelves need right now.
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Rescuing Lord Inglewood: A Regency Romance, by Sally Britton
Blue Water Books (May 21, 2019)
Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (232) pages
Cover image courtesy of Blue Water Books © 2020; text Katie Patchell © 2020, Austenprose.com