Rapiers. Dawn, Wimbledon Commons, near the windmill. Tuesday. I have a chess game planned with Lord Bonnington tomorrow and can’t bother with this. You are a hot-headed Fool who clearly has no sense of the Importance of Women (none whatsoever) nor of a good Sleep (vastly to be desired). I shall, however, resign myself to killing you.
Roberta St. Giles knows that if she leaves the matter of getting her married off in the hands of the Mad Marquess (her poet dad), she will die an old hunchbacked maid, so when she meets and instantly falls in love with the most eligible bachelor in the kingdom, she takes matters into her own hands. She pursues the duke of Villiers to London intending to have his hand in marriage one way or another.
So what do you do when you commit to writing a historical romance novel/series but you are too gifted of a writer to just write a typical girl meets boy ....... boy marries girl story?
You give us a whole cast of beautifully drawn characters who all have so much interesting stuff going on with them, and then expertly weave into the story, references to and games of that wonderfully elitist, pseudo-intelligent game of chess.
Roberta is twenty one and unmarried! Even more tragic, there are no prospects on the horizon. All the eligible bachelors are in London and she is stuck in the backwaters of somewhere. She is therefore not about to ignore fate when it brings the magnetic - 'He was a dangerous mixture of carelesness and supreme elegance' - Duke of Villiers into her life. He promptly offers her a roll in the hay, not caring whether he shall have her or not. She declares "You shan't have me" and proceeds to immediately fall in love.
Jemma, recently arrived from a life of pleasure, balls, and sin in Paris to bear her husband, the Duke of Beaumont an heir before he unexpectedly drops dead from overworking himself in the house of Lords, decides to take Roberta on as a project. She will take advantage of the fact that she is a superb chess player to get the chess obsessed Duke of Villiers to give up his lady killer ways and settle down with Roberta.
Who have we left out? Jemma's brother of course. And her husband. And her childhood bestfriend.
What have we left out? It is set in late eighteenth century United Kingdom.
After the duel at Wimbledon Commons, near the windmill, Boy marries Girl.
Reading the book is like watching Sergei Bubka jump. You are wowed until you realize he's holding himself back just so he can break the world record again next week. And the week after that.