A charming and light-hearted Victorian romance, the story begins with Miss Amelia Fairclough finding herself in need of somewhere to shelter from a snowstorm. The only available place is a lodge on the road to a great house, fortunately occupied by a rather nice gentleman who takes her in. Of course, he’s not the estate manager he makes himself out to be, but the estate owner, the Marquess of Falconmore, no less, and when the entire village discovers the next morning that Amelia spent the night alone with him, he does the honourable thing and offers for her.
There’s not much external conflict in the book, though Amelia and Cassius do have their issues to work out with each other. Cassius is ex-army and riddled with guilt over the death of his best friend, not to mention having to terms with inheriting his estate and title from a cousin he loved dearly, and Amelia is from quite a different social sphere and has to find her place as lady of the manor. The attraction and affection between the two is obvious from the beginning, though.
There’s a particularly delightful scene where Amelia turns a potential adversary into an ally, by confronting Cassius about his treatment of his widowed sister-in-law and pointing out that the lady is acting a particular way because Cassius has completely failed to ensure her future. Telling him to not only do the right thing, but put it in writing, was a fine strike for sisterly solidarity and a wake-up call for Cassius, who in a typically privileged male fashion hadn’t even thought about how financial insecurity can cause problems for those who don’t have it.
I’d recommend this as a sweet, low-conflict romance without a lot of angst, though the two leads do some soul-searching before finally coming together. Five stars for a heartwarming read I thoroughly enjoyed.