Hell hath no fury . . .
Damian, Earl of Windermere, rues the day he drunkenly gambled away his family’s estate and was forced into marriage to reclaim it. Now, after hiding out from his new bride for a year, Damian is finally called home, only to discover that his modest bride has become an alluring beauty—and rumor has it that she’s taken a lover. Damian vows to keep his wife from straying again, but to do so he must seduce her—and protect his heart from falling for the wife he never knew he wanted.
Lady Cynthia never aspired to be the subject of scandal.
Lady Cynthia never aspired to be the subject of scandal. But with her husband off gallivanting across Persia, what was a lady to do? Flirting shamelessly with his former best friend seemed like the perfect revenge . . . except no matter how little Damian deserves her loyalty, Cynthia can’t bring herself to be unfaithful. But now that the scoundrel has returned home, Cynthia isn’t about to forgive his absence so easily—even if his presence stirs something in her she’d long thought dead and buried. He might win her heart . . . if he can earn her forgiveness!
- Title: Lady Windermere’s Lover
- Author: Miranda Neville
- Publication: 2014
- Genre: Historical romance
- Links: Goodreads | Amazon
- Book CN: Discussion of serial rapist.
It’s a treat to be able to review a romance novel for a Feminist Friday review! This book is not without its writing and plotting problems, which other reviewers have extensively described. For my part, I found it engrossing despite those problems, and loved its clear embrace of consent — it’s consistent throughout the book, but even when Cynthia went to Denford’s HOUSE, to HAVE AN AFFAIR, and then decided to change her mind, there were no hard feelings. And when Damian comes back and thinks she did have the affair, there’s no “he was so angry he couldn’t help it” or anything like that. He’s an adult, he thinks about the situation, understands his own part in it, and goes about trying to fix it.
In the same vein, the plot is based on a misunderstanding, but it’s not something a simple conversation can fix. It’s a misunderstanding about expectations and intentions, in a relationship where no trust has been built, and it takes time for both parties to work through something like that. I also liked the subplot about silkworkers and workplace abuse; it’s a little heavy, but it contributes to Damian’s progression from being a privileged man who doesn’t care to someone who actually does care. I wish that plot had been more prominent in the resolution, which is admittedly rushed and mostly just sets up the next book. That’s what irritates me the most, that the ending, although emotionally satisfying as far as the main relationship, was totally unnecessary. I had already gotten hooked for Julian’s story, I didn’t need this weird thing glommed into the last fifty pages. But anyway.
There’s also a realism to the sex, not only the mechanics of it but how they feel about it, the way it’s paced. How and when they’re attracted to each other and decide to go to bed. Sometimes the similes are a bit silly, but I don’t mind that when the relationship and the sense of getting to know someone are so perfect. The sex is no more, and no less, than it should be for this couple in this story, one of several ways they’re interested in each other and want to be intimate with each other, but struggle for trust and a shared viewpoint. And I loved how Cynthia developed, going from not knowing a word for her vagina and having no idea sex might be fun, to being able to ask for what she wanted and enjoy her own fantasies. (I do wish the book had gone in a polyamory direction, it seemed like it was about to for a second, but I realize it’d be pretty unlikely and I also like that Cynthia could be so clear about what was a sexy fantasy vs. something she’d like to try in real life.)
All told, I loved this because it’s a romance for adults, not teenagers. Setting the couple later in their lives and adding in the social and diplomatic subplots made for a more layered read than the typical “young people meet and fall in love” storyline. (And Christmas plays a small part it in, as it does in many of these kinds of historical romances, so it’s seasonally appropriate.) I’ll be picking up the fourth book to get the rest of Julian’s story, and if it’s as good, I may go back and read the first two.