From the BLURB:
Miss Gail Alton is not having a good day. Or a good year. First, her new stepmother strong-arms her into attending the Season as a foil to her beautiful sister Evangeline. Then, while riding her mare in the park, she gets toppled by a stuffy, self-important, too-handsome-by-half "gentleman" who has the audacity to blame her for their fall into the chilly lake! Little does she know that the very same man will soon be found in a compromising position with Gail's sister.
Forced into asking for Evangeline's hand in marriage, Maximillian, Viscount Fontaine, can't take his mind off the irksome girl who threw him from his horse and who can match wits with him at every turn. He's determined to follow through with his best intentions, yet he can't deny that every encounter with Gail makes him want to cast propriety aside-and whisk away the sister of his soon-to-be bride.
It’s not very often that I find myself on the edge of my seat while reading a regency romance. More often than not the storyline is predictable and a happy ending is never far away. That’s quite all right – in fact it’s the whole reason I read regency romances. But I was pleasantly surprised by Kate Noble’s debut novel and how she managed to make ‘regency romance’ synonymous with ‘nail biter’.
Noble gets her hero and heroine so utterly twisted up in a thoroughly compromising position that even though I knew (deep, deep down) that things would work out romantically in the end, it was still a roller coaster of a journey to see how the characters got there.
Max and Gail meet when the two are unceremoniously dumped into a lake by their respective horses. Heated words ensue and the next time they meet, Gail is drunk as a skunk at a Ton party and vomiting on Max’s shoes. At the same Ton party Max bumps into Gail’s elder sister, the lovely Evangeline, and is instantly infatuated and even a little relieved when they are discovered in a compromising (though innocent) position that forces him to propose to her. Max can only see one drawback to marrying the ethereal Evangeline, and that is having Gail ‘the brat’ as his sister-in-law.
What follows is a slowly romantic and totally unintentional courtship between Max and Gail as Max learns the fleeting affections of lust are no match for the timelessness of true love. It’s incredibly sweet to watch Gail and Max go from being at logger-heads to reluctant affection to utter devotion. And all while navigating Ton gossip and the promises each of them have made.
Gail is a wonderful regency heroine. As is the case with most beloved leading ladies of the 1800’s – Gail is no dimwitted debutante. She is a wallflower who shies away from social events and conversations with men – but only because she fears her wicked wit and quick tongue will get her in trouble. She has high-minded opinions about England’s need to colonize other countries and the Crown’s rape of other cultures. She is utterly charming and a little bit clumsy. My kind of girl!
Max is a wonderful leading man for the headstrong Gail. He doesn’t back down from her arguments and actively encourages her debates and disagreements with him. He is enamored of her fiery personality and encourages her to let it out more often.
Gail hemmed. “I just worry too much about making a mess of things.”
Max squeezed her hand. “I am suddenly overwhelmed by this feeling that you will be just fine.”
“Why is that?” she questioned.
He laced his fingers through hers. “Because when no one’s watching,” he whispered, “you’re fearless”.
Max and Gail are smokin’ hot too. Their romance is aided by pent-up frustrations caused by propriety and an inconvenient engagement to the wrong sister – so when they do finally act on their feelings, it’s sexy as all get out!
The best thing about ‘Compromised’ is Noble’s ability to keep the reader guessing. Even though you know a happy resolution is in store, Noble has created such a twisty-turny plot and gotten her characters into such hot water it’s entertaining to see how they get themselves out of their predicaments.
I will definitely be reading more of Ms. Noble’s work – I even think she will join the ranks of Lisa Kleyas, Julia Quinn and Tessa Dare as being one my favorite historical romance authors.