Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Lady Josephina's Secrect, by Agnes Forest

Sundance House Publishing, August 2018

Lady Josephina Crawford is well-born, lovely, and intelligent. The last isn't necessarily an advantage at Almack's in the hunt for a husband, but it doesn't need to be a disadvantage, either.

However, she's also a talented, and very popular, author of novels. Not that anyone knows! Her books are published under the name of her brother, Francis, future heir to the father's title of Viscount Whitemore. Francis is very happy to take all the credit, and Josephina has agreed to this because it would certainly be the death of her respectability to be known as an authoress.

Gerard Sheridan, Marquess of Richmond, heir to his father, Duke of Bedfordshire, is in a position he never expected. He was the younger son, planning a career in the church, until his brother died a year ago. Newly out of mourning, he is also newly in need of a wife. Planning to be a clergyman, he had never expected to need a wife.

I am not entirely sure that Ms. Forest realizes that in the Regency era, and indeed the Georgian era and the Victorian era, and most English historical eras since Henry VIII's break with Rome, English clergy have generally been expected to have wives, to be safe and respectable. But be that as it may, he at least wouldn't have been facing the same need to produce an heir of his own.

Gerard, it turns out, is also artistic--a painter, in his case. When he meets the Crawfords, he is charmed by Josephina, finds Francis a lot more convincing when he's talking about taxidermy than when he's bragging on his supposed literary achievements, and quickly suspects that Josephina is the real writer in the family.

Josephina and Gerard are both likable, interesting people, and it's too bad that most of the people around them are boring and annoying. With the help of their "friends," they manage to make their courtship as difficult and tedious as possible. I will say, though, that as much as I would like to see Francis dumped in the Thames, Gerard's friend, Lord Calvin Cain, annoying and frustrating as he can be, seems to be a real friend to them both. Not always the wisest friend, but interesting and almost certainly well-intended. I do hope he gets his own story.

It's a frustrating story at times, but it did serve to while away a rainy afternoon, mostly pleasantly.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the author, and am reviewing it voluntarily.