There are some pretty deep themes underlying this excellently written Regency romance; the hero is a soldier returned from war, and though he’s the wealthy third son of a duke with the world at his feet, some fairly major PTSD has him lost and floundering, like so many who came back both in those days and the current time, he finds it difficult to fit back into the world he once knew.
Given a ‘mission’ to look over discrepancies in the accounts of a Cornish estate he inherited which he has never visited, Alex decides to head to Cornwall incognito - but not incognito enough. Attacked just before arrival, he is seriously wounded and suffers amnesia. Ending up in the care of the local doctor and his very competent daughter-assistant Hero, he soon finds there is more to this innocent-seeming Cornish village than meets the eye. With the local economy in tatters due to a corrupt steward’s embezzlement, many men are forced into the smuggling trade just to keep food on the table.
Alex has to wrestle with the moral dilemma of who deserves punishment and who deserves help, all the while falling madly in love with Hero, who is a delightful heroine years ahead of her time. Basically trained as her father’s apprentice, she is as competent a doctor as anyone could wish, but barred forever from recognition because of her gender. Seeking her own place in the world, it’s obvious to the reader that she and Alex will make a wonderful match, but of course there are a lot of obstacles to clear out of the way first.
Britain in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars was a country trying to find her way, with wealthy absentee landlords oblivious to the needs of their tenants, returning soldiers desperate for work, the Luddites fighting the rise of mechanisation and much more. The author cleverly weaves all this into her story, showing the empathy of the two (wealthy) protagonists by making them care about those around them and seek to improve the lot of the many rather than just the few. This is a really good, enjoyable read with a lovely romance atop a richly layered, thoroughly researched backdrop. Five stars.
It Only Takes A Kiss is available now in all major ebook stores.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.