"Magnificent! A Thinking Woman's Romance Novel"
Reviewed by Monique Daoust
Posted October 10, 2014
Holiday | Romance Historical
American Giles Rutherford travelled to England along with
his father Richard on a quest. The elder Rutherford is
looking for a puzzle box that holds the secret to his
late wife's jewels, hidden decades ago. There is barely
enough money left for the dowries of five daughters, and
hopefully the contents will take care of the family's
recent financial woes.
While on a stop at a small inn, the Rutherfords rescue
Lady Audrina Bradleigh who had been kidnapped by a former
lover. In spite of having been taken against her will,
Audrina's father says she is not to go back to London
unless she is betrothed, thus condemned to miss her
sister Charissa's wedding on the first day of the new
year, in less than a month. Audrina, being already
ruined, sees no chance of that happening. Her father
chooses to go back to London with her abductor, while she
will travel to York with the Rutherfords, and their
friend Lady Estella Irving to the estate of
SEASON FOR DESIRE starts off as a beautifully written
cosy Regency mystery featuring an extraordinary cast of
eccentric and endearing characters, save for Giles; as he
is the stoic, dependable and serious one. Ms. Romain's an
extensive understanding and knowledge of the era shines
in many ways: how well she knows the English character;
the cultured manners and speech, the biting sarcasm, the
proprieties of the various classes. The author shines in
her lush descriptions of the surroundings, as well as
sparkling dialogue, and the delightful banter between the
characters had me chuckling quite a few times.
SEASON FOR DESIRE is also one of the best books I have
ever read, bar none; I was reminded of Dostoyevsky's
Crime and Punishment as regards the author's profound
insight on society and keeping up appearances. The
romantic element is unquestionably present: the story of
one couple had me weeping, while another's made me smile
-- yes, there are two love stories, as equally touching as
they are different. There are plot twists I never saw
coming because they are most unusual in Regency romance
novels. At the heart of SEASON FOR DESIRE lay the
profound questions of what defines one's worth; is being
different good or bad; should one live one's life
according to others' expectations or should one dare go
on an adventure, such as Richard's.
SEASON FOR DESIRE is like a huge, beautiful box that,
after unwrapping layer after layer, you find exactly the
present you've always dreamed of. Ms. Romain's exquisite
prose and extraordinary storytelling skills take us on a
splendid and unforgettable journey.
Like her four sisters, Lady Audrina Bradleigh is expected
marry a duke, lead fashion, and behave with propriety.
Consequently, Audrina pursues mischief with gusto,
scandalous parties and indulging in illicit affairs. But
when an erstwhile lover threatens to ruin her reputation,
Audrina has no choice but to find a respectable husband at
Who would guess that her search would lead her to Giles
Rutherford, a blunt-spoken American on a treasure hunt of
his own? When a Christmas snowstorm strands the pair at a
country inn, more secrets are traded than gifts--along
kisses that require no mistletoe--and Audrina discovers
proper gentlemen have their wicked side. . .
Excerpt“Maybe you won’t be away from your family on Christmas,” he
finally replied. “As you said, there’s plenty of time.
Twelve days. By then, your father will have relented, and
“No,” she cut him off. “No, he will not relent. Not with
the family’s reputation at stake.”
At Giles’s side, she shifted. The nearby branch of candles
cast warm gilt on her face; the moonlight left her skirts
and neatly half-booted feet silvery-cold. “Never mind that.
It’s all right. If I do not return to London, then I . . .
then I will be somewhere else.”
“Nicely reasoned,” Giles said.
One of her feet kicked against his shin in what was surely
not an accident.
“As it is almost Christmas,” she said in a tone of
frightening cheer, “shall we look for a special star in the
“What, as though we’re Magi following it?” Giles shook his
head, rocking it upon his folded-up forearms. “Sorry,
princess. I wouldn’t know a special star from an ordinary
“But would you follow a star? Or—a dream? If you were
permitted to have one?” Her laugh was low and a little
Giles considered. “Following a star is no wilder than some
of my father’s other schemes. He’s tried making paper not
only from rags, but from wood pulp—what a disaster that
was. And remember, we came to England solely because of a
fortune that no one thinks exists anymore except for him.
So if I’m willing to follow a whim that isn’t even my own,
why shouldn’t I follow a star?”
“Because you don’t believe in it.” Her voice was low and
soft. “You wouldn’t follow a star on your own. You wouldn’t
be here on your own.”
Her words sounded like a criticism, echoing within his
hollowness. There’s nothing you want. Those dreams are all
borrowed from someone else. You don’t have any of your own.
Maybe he didn’t anymore. He’d let them go when his wrists
grew painful; the first of many things that would
inevitably slip from his grasp, just as illness had taken
everything from his mother.
But it wasn’t as though he’d done nothing with his life. He
had made himself instead into the family’s valet, bootboy,
governess—and Richard’s dutiful son, who could manage the
accounts of a paper mill or design a new setting for an
“If,” he answered, “I am willing to come along so a person
of conviction doesn’t have to be alone, isn’t that worth
“I suppose, if you do so for the sake of providing
Not if you do it out of mistrust. This remained unsaid. Did
she think it, though? It was such a grimy thought that he
shied from it himself. “If I can’t tell a special star from
an ordinary one, maybe I’ll treat them all like they’re
special. Or are we even talking about stars anymore?”
“We were never talking about stars,” she sighed.
They lay on the woven surface, simply looking at the moon.
Now that he had seen it through the telescope, to Giles it
seemed closer, the shape of a grin tipped sideways. Hanging
just out of reach, as though if he stretched out his hand
he could capture the whole of it. Appearing so much
smoother and brighter from a distance than it did when one
looked at it closely.
Well. A lot of things were like that.
From the corner of his eye, he saw Audrina shiver. “Are you
cold?” he asked.
“I am fine.”
“Liar. Your sleeves are like little puffy flowers. They
can’t possibly be warm, especially when you’re lying on a
He rolled to a seated position and began the tedious
process of easing off his coat. The snug cut made it
difficult to accomplish on his own, but he succeeded by
working one sleeve down over the heel of his hand, then
sitting on sleeve and hand alike to pin them in place as he
eased out of the rest.
Throughout, Audrina watched him from her reclining position
atop the shawl. The set of her mouth was grave—as though
Giles was something to be looked at through a telescope,
considered, then turned away from again.
“Here you go.” He shook the coat out, ready to lay it over
her like a blanket.
But somehow, in reaching over to cover her, he forgot to
draw back again. Somehow his eyes caught hers, dark in the
low golden firelight, and he forgot to do anything at all.
Poised on one elbow, his other arm spanning her body, he
drank her with his eyes, with his breath, with a soft sigh
After a few long seconds during which he couldn’t quite
seem to get himself to move, the solemn line of her mouth
curved into a smile. And then she captured his face between
her palms, pulling it to hers.
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