Sunday, September 12, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: Unmasking the Hero by Mary Lancaster

Mary Lancaster has a new Regency Romance series (Pleasure Garden) and book one, Unmasking the Hero, has just been released. 


Grace, the Countess of Wenning, was abandoned by her husband the morning after their wedding. He left no explanation, only a curt note telling her she might go on the wedding trip alone or go live in one of his houses. Her choice. Meanwhile, he embarked on a two-year diplomatic posting to China, one that he had previously turned down.

The backstory is that on that same morning, Oliver Harlaw, Earl of Wenning had found a letter that Grace had written to a lover, decrying her “dreadful marriage.” Devastated, Oliver raced to the ship bound for China to pick up his career where he had left it. 

Gobsmacked, Grace is forced to face the ton and its gossip alone. She decides to brazen it out by socializing wildly and flirting with all comers. She attracts a large circle of admirers, mostly harmless, and learns how to discourage the men who expect too much. She never crosses the line to actual cheating because even though she hates Oliver for leaving her humiliated her, she loves him still. 

Now, Oliver has just returned from two years abroad and must face the wife he discarded but has never ceased to love. During his absence, he’d heard reports of his wife’s wild lifestyle, but also received assurance from a trusted friend that there was no lover in her life.

Oliver is hoping to understand the truth (approaching her—not quite spying, but close to doing so—during a series of masquerades) and to set things right, while Grace, who has learned of his return only from the newspapers and gossip, is bent on revenge.

Suspend disbelief for a bit: yes, it seems farfetched that Grace does not recognize her masked husband right away, but if you accept this, the rest of the plot unfolds in a lively fashion. The protagonists are sympathetic characters who belong together. This is signature Mary Lancaster romance. I look forward to book two.

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