Monday, May 15, 2023

BOOK REVIEW: Captured by Mary Lancaster

Captured by Mary Lancaster is the second book in the series, The Duel. The timeline overlaps with book one, Entangled.

The duel that is at the center of the series took place just prior to the opening of both books. The participants were the honorable Major Butler, an officer in Wellington’s army, and the miserable old Duke of Cuttyngham. The duke died, but it is unclear whether Butler actually killed him or if he had something lethally wrong with him before the duel.

Lady Hera Severne is the daughter of the deceased duke. She doesn’t regret her father’s death. He was a cold, selfish man. Now that she is freed from his control, she is eager to learn what she can make of herself. She takes a job in a distant town (the village of St. Bride) as a companion to Lady Astley (local gentry) and the Astleys’ ward. It turns out the ward is a thirty-ish man named George, who is neurodivergent. The more Hera learns about the situation, the more appalled she becomes. The Astleys keep George locked in the attic or in the garden, and they are determined to keep his existence secret.

Dr. Justin Rivers is an army surgeon and a good friend of Major Butler. He is trying to clear Butler’s name because he’s certain it was not Butler’s bullet that killed the Duke. He meets Hera, fleetingly, when he goes to the home of the Cuttynghams to question the surviving (adult) children about their father’s underlying health. While there, he and Hera share a light flirtation.

Coincidentally, the village of St. Bride is Justin’s family home. When he goes home for a brief visit, he and Hera meet again.

Justin is duty-bound to return to the battlefield. Nevertheless, during his leave, he spends time with Hera. Their attraction grows. At the same time, they become concerned about George. Who is he? And why do the Astleys keep him hidden away and locked up?

There is a touch of the gothic in this Regency Romance. The mystery is easy to solve, but the complications draw the reader in. Lancaster’s emotionally rich, light-on-steam style makes for an enjoyable read, as always.

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