For a feminist regency romance, for a bit of cultural/religious tension as well, a drawn-out enemies-to-lovers by force plot
Drusilla Clare is full of opinions about why a woman shouldn’t marry. But that doesn’t stop the rush of desire she feels each time her best friend’s brother, notorious rake Gabriel Marlington, crosses her path. So imagine her dismay when she finds herself in the clutches of a scoundrel, only to be rescued by Gabriel himself. And when Gabriel’s heartless—and heart-pounding—proposal comes, it’s enough to make Dru’s formidable resolve crumble. She’s sharp-tongued, exasperating—and due to one careless moment—about to become his wife. Still, something about Drusilla has Gabriel intrigued. First there’s the delicious flush of her skin every time she delivers a barb—and then the surprisingly sensual feel of her in his arms. Gabriel even finds himself challenged by her unusual philosophies. And when he discovers a clandestine rival for Dru’s affection, his temperature flares even hotter. But the real threat to their happiness is one neither of the newlyweds sees coming. If they’re to save their future—and their very lives—they’ll need to trust in each other and their growing love.
I haven’t read much of this genre, but this felt like a good introduction! It was a little more complex than I expected. I figured we would have the standard timeline:
– something “scandalous” happens and the only clear solution is… marry
– they end up really into each other and sparks fly
– maybe some kind of family drama or brief misunderstanding
– and then they’re happy again
I mean… that is mostly what happens. But! There was more to it that I enjoyed.
Drusilla’s feminist beliefs did seem kind of weak since she was oh so against marriage and then was totally okay with marriage to Gabriel. Her fickleness aside, I loved the references to Wollstonecraft, for example, and they made me positively giddy. After all, what’s a regency without a rebellious female lead bucking the status quo? Difficult women make history after all.
One element I certainly did not expect was the dive into Gabriel’s conflicts with his family history, culture, etc. His father having had a harem and his brother’s actions towards the family came into play fairly frequently to impact Dru & Gabriel’s relationship. Their conversations about it felt unusual in this period for London, but not in a bad way. I personally loved the addition.
And, okay, yes, the sexy scenes were nice and spicy. They just touched into explicit at some points, and you get a good solid five or six pages of one scene. Spencer managed to make the scenes read somewhat modern while maintaining their prudish societal expectations as a filter on their interactions as well. The development of their relationship was okay, even though the pacing is (by necessity) maddeningly quick. Gabriel’s feelings especially felt rather abrupt, but I take it all with a grain of salt.
Overall though, this was still a fun light read that didn’t really blow me away. I would totally recommend it for people looking for just that kind of book. In the end though, it probably won’t have specific details or moments lingering in my head for very long. (I actually had to go back to remember Gabriel’s name since finishing this book about a week ago. 😅)
Thanks to Bookishfirst and Kensington for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.