Lady Augusta is a polymath with an insatiable curiosity for learning languages. Having sought out tutors to teach her everything she can, she hankers to attend university, which really wasn’t an option for women in the Regency era, at least not in England. Having done her research and used her connections as an earl’s sister, Augusta might, just might, be able to get admitted to university in Padua, Italy… if she can avoid her mother’s determination to marry her off and get her family’s permission to go.
Phinn is the younger brother of a marquis with four daughters, and his brother needs him to get married to provide an heir. Phinn has a fascination with architecture, though, and desperately itchy feet; having just returned from Mexico, he wants only to be off again, this time to Europe.
On the face of it, Augusta and Phinn are a perfect match, something their families realize early on, and so does Phinn. Augusta, though, understandably fears he’ll want her to settle down and start popping out babies immediately, so does her best to friendzone him.
It was somewhat frustrating that Augusta didn’t just tell Phinn about her wish to attend university, but it was obviously a plot point that needed to happen as otherwise there would have been no conflict in the story. Phinn was obviously the kind of man who would move heaven and earth to see Augusta achieve her dreams - and without giving away too many spoilers, that’s exactly what he eventually does.
One thing I really liked about this is that the romance isn’t a case of insta-love - the characters develop a really deep friendship first, and their ‘getting together’ occurs close to the very end of the book - but that wasn’t without its problems, in that the first part of the book really dragged. I seemed to have been reading for ever, checked, and I wasn’t even halfway through the book yet. At 320 pages, I think it could probably have been cut to about 240 and would have been a much better, tighter read.
Overall I enjoyed this, especially Phinn as he happily acknowledged that Augusta was definitely the smartest person he knew and supported her dreams. Well researched, there are some great sections travelling through early nineteenth-century Europe, but it was just a bit slow and frustrating, especially in the first half. Four stars.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.