by Amanda L.V. Shalaby
Audra Kingsley, a wealthy heiress, may not have seen much of the world, but she knows exactly how she wants her future to play out - and a coming out ball held at her country estate, Kingsley Manor, would suit her just fine. Her father’s wish that she be presented at St. James in London seems silly since she is to marry her neighbor and childhood sweetheart, Lord Crispin Brighton, but she obliges him.
Audra travels to London with her patroness, the eccentric Lady Sutherland, intending to return home as soon as she has curtseyed to the Queen. Unknown to her, Lady Sutherland is in no rush to leave London before the Season is over and intends to show Audra she has more options in the suitor department than Lord Crispin, a second son.
Audra finds herself surrounded by few friends and is forced to attend parties, balls, and operas - all while becoming the object of a secret admirer’s obsession. As Audra struggles to make her way home to her beloved, plans to compromise her into an unwanted marriage are underway.
Toward the end of the evening, Audra danced her second time with Lord Everton. Again, she fell quickly at ease with him, and he did not flirt with her — much. He was fond of twirling her more quickly than the dance required, and just as their dance concluded, a strand of hair fell from its pins. He seemed proud of himself, and she shook her head. He was as pleasant as ever, and she wished him every success in finding himself a suitable wife.
“Was that Lord Everton tossing you about?” asked Lady Sutherland, smiling as Audra approached her. “What a funny fellow!”
Certainly, there was no one in the whole of Almack’s who was enjoying themselves as much as Lady Sutherland. No debutante, no hopeful mother, no gentleman amidst the fresh blood in the assembly rooms could match her consummate and inexhaustible high spirits. Audra wondered if the fervent gaiety of the older women surrounding her, while not equal to the matchless happiness of her patroness, was enough to make Lady Sutherland tolerable to them.
Before Audra could make any reply, her patroness went on, “Whatever has happened to your hair, child?”
Lady Sutherland seemed about to leap from her chair, but Audra rested a calming hand over hers. “Not to worry, Lady Sutherland. It is only a runaway curl. I beg you will not disturb yourself and your friends. I suspect with the assistance of a mirror and a new pin I shall be more than equipped to return it to its place. Do enjoy yourself.”
This last was an unnecessary suggestion. As Audra reached for her reticule, Lady Sutherland nodded and settled herself more fixedly in her seat, as her immutable joy emanated from her core with a burning glow that would rouse the envy of any hearth.
Audra took leave of her patroness for the nearest mirror. Finding one on the far wall, she placed her feather-trimmed reticule on the table and undid the ribbon drawstrings. Attempting to hold the rogue curl in place, she reached with her free hand for the extra hairpins she packed at the house and felt something crinkle against her fingertips. Her gaze dropped to a folded piece of paper between her linen handkerchief and her calling card case. The loose curl was quickly forgotten as she lifted the document curiously and opened the folds of a hand-written note.
Dear Lady Audra …
Audra’s mouth fell, and she instinctively looked about her. If someone had been hoping she would discover it sooner rather than later, they certainly were not waiting around to watch her read it. The fluid movements of the crowd continued without any care to Audra Kingsley or the contents of her reticule. Turning her back to the crowd once more, she held the note low and quickly scanned its contents.
Dear Lady Audra,
While it would, indeed, be easier to gain an introduction by a mutual acquaintance and beg a spot on your dance card, it would not be nearly as fun. Other gentleman may be so dull, but I wish to gain fair lady’s interest by avoiding all the usual routes. It is my hope you will find my unconventional note intriguing, and the mystery places me in your favor. You may expect to hear from me again, and soon. I only hope to find myself in your thoughts until then.
Your Secret Admirer
Review: This book was pure perfection. I loved everything about it. Audra, Crispin and the right amount of suspense to keep the pages turning
Audra is a spunky heroine. She's smart and very likable and only 16 and Crispin is the really the boy next door that we all want for our own.
What I liked about this book is that it was more a "sweet romance" which is something rare when it comes to historicals. No bodice ripping here, just a wonderful romantic story. A regency written in the way they should be. Anyone remember the Candlelight Regency imprint? This is what this book reminded me of.
The story is suitable for all ages and will definitely be a must read for those that love this genre. I look forward to reading more of Amanda's books!
Rating: 5 flowers
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Amanda L. V. Shalaby's passion for all things Jane Austen was inspired by her mother and grandmother. She now writes her own English historical romances, and is the author of Rhianna and Audra.
Amazon Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Audra-Crimson-Romance-ebook/dp/B00CA9DEUW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1366476179&sr=8-1&keywords=audra+amanda+Shalaby
· Amanda will be awarding a free eBook of her previous novel, Rhianna to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.