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Reviewed by Kelly Ferjutz

There is much to appreciate in this story of tradition. On the one side is the continuous story of the Worthington family and the privileges they receive as part of the nobility. On the other is the effect of being literally disowned and left with no resources for even basic survival. Patrimony is responsible for both of these conditions–and it is both the strength and the weakness of England. Daughters may not inherit unless the ‘letters patent’ were originally created to make allowances for such an eventuality. This does happen, but not often enough.

Lady Julia Hazelton is the most logical person to inhabit the vast Worthington estate, having been raised to do just that. Her dream came true when Anthony Carstairs, the next heir to Worthington, proposed to her. But then he went off to war, and his younger brother died in an accident, leaving Worthington alone while a search was conducted for the next possible heir.

It seems there was a younger Carstairs brother who went to America, and should have succeeded him in the inheritance. However, said brother not only married out of his religion, but even worse – his class, and was thus disowned and disqualified from consideration. However, there was a son, even if born out of wedlock, and he will become the new Earl, no matter how reluctant he is for this ‘honor’. Ultimately, however, he discovers honorable depths within himself that baffle him as they emerge.

Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew might have been modeled on these two characters, had it not been written several centuries earlier than their existence. This book was wonderfully plotted, with an amazing cast of characters in all levels of society. But it is Cal and Julia who rule the story. He is not a willing new Earl, because revenge is his goal. He doesn’t want Worthington, his plan is to destroy it, until he finally realizes he can’t. And not just because Julia won’t allow it. There are multiple layers of secrets that need to be sorted out and as a team, they stand a better chance of finding the right solution.

I totally loved this book. The writing is superb, and the plot engaging on every level. The 1920s were a fascinating decade, and the ins and outs – and extremes – of society figure prominently in the story. It is one of my very favorite books of 2016.

First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.

Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by HQN Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.

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