Formats available: ebook
Genres: historical romance
Series: Townsbridges #1
Published by Sophie Barnes on February 19th 2019
Purchasing Info: Author's Website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Two people fated to be together…
Recently engaged to the Earl of Langdon, Lady Bethany is content with the knowledge that she’s made a wonderful match for herself. Until a chance encounter with a handsome stranger makes her wish she was still unattached – a sentiment that grows even stronger when circumstance causes her to spend more time in this gentleman’s company.
And the duty that threatens to come between them…
Charles Townsbridge is not prepared to learn that the mystery woman he met in the park, the very same woman he cannot get out of his head, is in fact his best friend’s fiancée. Determined to do the right thing, he tasks himself with quashing the attraction, only to discover that the heart cannot be so easily controlled.
Think of this as a historical version of the trope about falling for your significant other’s best friend – just with a whole lot of added consequences.
After a Transatlantic crossing where they had a chance to get to know one another, Lady Bethany agreed to marry Robert, the Earl of Langdon. It seemed like an excellent match – and it possibly might have been. Except for that whole best friend problem.
And because Robert basically saw their engagement as a business transaction, one where once the contract was signed and sealed he didn’t have to put forth any future effort to win the woman who had agreed to become his wife.
He had plenty of other unspoken expectations as well. Love didn’t enter into it – and it honestly didn’t for Bethany, either. But she did hope that when they got to know one another that they would have a solid foundation on which to build a marital partnership of some kind.
He couldn’t be bothered. Which probably goes to show just how much he cared in the first place.
On that very infamous other hand, Bethany met his best friend Charles Townsbridge in the park. Chasing after her runaway bonnet. And felt the spark that had completely eluded her in all of her meetings with Langdon.
She could have considered it just a passing fancy. Or a bored impulse. Or pretty much anything except that spark of an attraction she was no longer eligible to feel.
But Charles felt it too. Leaving him determined to suppress his desires at every turn. Of which there were entirely too many – because Bethany’s fiance trusted his best friend to take care of the woman he couldn’t be bothered to even take tea with.
Nothing happened. There was no affair. Plenty of temptation, but just the barest hint of flirting – and even that only after being thrown together too many times. They were both completely honorable – and both suffering in silence. A silence they both planned to take to their graves.
Lucky for ALL of them, Athena Townsbridge was completely unwilling to let her brother suffer alone for the rest of his life – no matter how much scandal SHE had to cause, with his permission – or without.
Escape Rating B+: This book feels like the absolute ultimate read in UST. That’s “unresolved sexual tension” for those who are not familiar with the acronym from reading fanfic.
The story here is delicious. It’s also appropriately short. I say that because the tension between Bethany and Charles is palpable from their very first meeting, to the point where it quickly becomes painful for them to be together, and equally painful for the reader to watch.
What makes the story is that they are both trying to do the honorable thing. She affianced herself to Langdon quite willingly – albeit not with nearly enough information. Also, he seems to have put on an act of being truly interested in her while they were aboard ship, only for him to completely drop the act once the contract was signed.
He doesn’t come off very well, and he shouldn’t.
But Charles and Bethany both feel stuck. There will be a terrible scandal if she cancels the engagement and it will all fall on her and her family. While they can weather the storm, it could easily mean the difference between her making a good marriage and not marrying at all.
It’s just a mess, and we feel for both of them the whole way through. Robert, not so much.
All of the adults are trying to do the responsible thing, which makes it doubly delicious when Charles’ young sister decides to hell with leaving everyone to wallow in their misery. I hope she gets her own romance sometime later in this series. She’s already earned her own HEA!