Genre fiction lover: Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
Oh... this felt like old skool Mary Balogh. I really dug this one.
Flavian is one of the members of the Survivor's Club. Like the other members he suffers from mental and physical issues as a result of being in the Napoleonic wars. His affliction includes a speech impediment, headaches and gaps in memory.
Before he went to war Flavian was engaged to be married. When he returned battered and practically witless, his fiancee threw him over for his best friend.
During a visit with one of the Survivors, Flavian meets Mrs. Agnes Keeping, a lovely young widow who lives with her spinster sister. They talk and dance during a ball. Agnes finds it very easy to have a violent crush on Flavian as he is Greek God beautiful, but Flavian doesn't quite remember Agnes the next time he meets her during an annual get together of the Survivors.
But during that time as he & his friends spend the weeks in the country and reconnect with each other, Flavian and Agnes get to know each other very well too. I liked this slow, sweet, and honestly, rather sexy courtship. They are very much attracted to each other and surprisingly by the end of the visit, they have agreed to marry by special license.
The idyll comes crashing down as soon as they move to London where Flavian's family have also come along with his ex-fiancee (now a widow). The two families have decided that it only makes sense these two should marry. But they hadn't counted on Agnes.
The romantic conflict here is three-fold:
1) There is a bit of unrequited love going as Agnes is very much in love with Flavian but while he is in lust with & very much likes Agnes he hasn't quite taken the full tumble into love
2) Flavian went into the marriage with Agnes with a bit of an agenda. He knew the families would push for a betrothal and by preemptively marrying Agnes he was able to avert their plans. But now in addition to knowing that Flavian not only didn't love her, Agnes is hurt to suspect that he had done something even worse, he was possibly using her.
3) The ex-fiancee is a bit of a schemer and tries to introduce even more doubt into the new, very wobbly marriage.
But... and this is what I loved... Agnes was no slouch. She didn't do a flounce. Oh no, Agnes was all "He put a ring on it!" and not only did she let Flavian know know she was in it to win it, she also put The Schemer on notice too.
It was such a nice development with some really nice character moments and some very elegant Mary Balogh prose that it immediately made me feel nostalgic for some of her earlier works.
Also there is a bit of mystery to be solved that Flavian has to work through because he is sure that his memory gaps are hiding some devastating memories that are connected to his broken betrothal, his break with his best friend and the death of his own brother.
Really good book.