Jane Downing at the age of twenty four is on the verge of spinsterhood and she thoroughly believes she is invisible. Nobody notices her. Even though her best friend Grace, recently married to Earl Oliver Carlisle, goes out of her way to include her, such as inviting her to view the opera from the Duke of Ravenwood’s Box, Jane still remains unnoticed. To make matters worse, Jane is a bluestocking who spends all her time reading. The only romance in her life is that of fictional characters. Why couldn’t she be like her brother Isaac who was boring on purpose, preferring his solitude?
However, if she could choose any man it would be Captain Xavier Gray. Ironically, while Jane wishes to be acknowledged by society, Xavier wants to be totally left alone in his catatonic state. Jane’s keen eye recognizes that Captain Gray is really aware of everything, he just chooses to disengage from society. In fact, he is moving out to a cottage in the country to be all by himself.
Why couldn’t she experience a passionate relationship such as the Demimondaines enjoy? Well not an overt affair, but something more clandestine. Then, when brother Isaac leaves towns for a couple of weeks, Jane decides to take her chances and offer herself to the handsome Captain so she can at least experience lovemaking once before becoming an old maid. After all, some men prefer plump women, don’t they?
Xavier actually finds Jane quite attractive, viewing her as voluptuous, not plump, but if he takes advantage of Jane’s offer he would not be a gentleman (not to mention being faced with the wrath of her brother Isaac). Besides, Xavier has other concerns. While Jane views his role in the war as heroic, he considers himself a monster for the despicable acts he has committed. Even the fact he returned home physically intact adds to his mental torment. However, when the two become snowbound, they discover that the burdens they once thought true, might not be the whole story. Perhaps there is a chance for both of them to find happiness.
The Captain’s Bluestocking Mistress by Erica Ridley is Book 2 in the Dukes of War series. While tending to be a little over the top with the actions of the major characters totally unrealistic, the end result is emotionally satisfying. This simple Regency Romance is about a woman who goes after what she wants, dragging the man she wants to do it with along for the ride, until he realizes that she is what he has wanted the entire time. The repetition of the push pull of their relationship – the “yes I want to but no I shouldn’t”, skirts the line of too much. Yet the scenes where the two form a bond are delightful and the antics of the devil cat, Egui, add a unique twist to the story. I wonder if we will ever find out the true origin of Isaac’s borrowed pet?
Three stars and a thank you to Netgalley and Intrepid Reads for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.