Barbara Cerny has created an absolutely amazing character in Lady Oksana “OJ” Wallingford. She’s unusually tall, she’s fat and she’s not beautiful. She’s also been left in dire circumstances by a wastrel father who left her penniless and forced to seek employment after his death. Luckily, Lady OJ is fortunate in her friends, or most specifically in her best friend since childhood, Geoff Tarkington, younger brother of Rafe, Duke of Essex. Knowing how desperately his brother needs someone utterly respectable to take care of his young children after their faithless mother’s death, Geoff proposes OJ for the position, and Rafe is willing to take her on trust, sending her out to the family’s estate at Grays Hill to meet his sons. Strong-willed and loving, OJ immediately takes the motherless children to her heart… and their father finds himself reluctantly falling in love with her too.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a period romance with a heroine as unusual as Lady OJ. I absolutely adored her. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, to stand up to Rafe and shout at him, to fight for what she knew was right. I wanted to punch Rafe when he treated her badly; even knowing how badly he was played by his first wife, OJ still deserved better. Thankfully, because this IS a romance, everything came out well and all those who deserved it got their happy ending.
I can’t quite give the story five stars, despite how much I enjoyed it, because there were some modern and non-English phrases that crept into the story from time to time and jarred me out of the period setting. Even so, I’d love to read more of Barbara Cerny’s work, and I particularly hope she writes Lord Geoff’s story at some point in the future!
Find Grays Hill here on Amazon now!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through Reader’s Favorite.