A Wicked Pursuit (Breconridge Brothers)
Ballantine / February 25, 2014 / $7.99 print, $5.99 digital
As the eldest son of the Duke of Breconridge, Harry Fitzroy is duty-bound to marry—and marry well. Giving up his rakish ways for the pleasures of a bride’s bed becomes a delightful prospect when Harry chooses beautiful Lady Julia Barclay, the catch of the season. But a fall from his horse puts a serious crimp in his plans. Abandoned by Julia before he can propose, the unlucky bachelor finds himself trapped in the country in the care of Julia’s younger sister.
Harry has never met a woman like Lady Augusta. Utterly without artifice, Gus is clever and capable, and seems to care not a fig for society. After a taboo kiss awakens passion that takes them both by surprise, Harry realizes he’d almost given his heart to the wrong sister. While London tongues wag, he’ll use his most seductive powers of persuasion to convince the reluctant Gus that she belongs with him—as his equal, his love, his wife.
Harry Fitzroy, eldest son of the Duke of Breconridge, spends most of Isabella Bradford's A Wicked Pursuit in bed, in the company of an unexpectedly enticing young woman, but not in the way one might originally suspect. Though he originally intends to eschew his rakish ways in favor of marriage to the beautiful and sought-after Julia Barclay, he’s thrown for a loop—and from his horse—before he gets a chance to propose. Though Julia makes a quick exit upon Harry’s injury, it’s her sister, Lady Augusta, more familiarly known as Gus, who takes Harry in hand, and to heart.
Level-headed Gus appoints herself Harry’s nurse, and moves from caretaker to a full partner in his recovery. Harry depends upon Gus for company during his convalescence, and comes to see the true inner and outer beauty her family has overlooked. Though Julia never even mentioned Gus to Harry, he soon finds he’s been mistaken as to which sister is better suited to be his future duchess. Convincing Gus of that fact may be as difficult a task as that of making a full recovery, even when the decision is taken out of his hands.
Since Isabella Bradford is also Miranda Jarrett, author of classic eighteenth century historical romances and historical fiction author Susan Holloway Scott, it’s no surprise that this story easily transports readers to Georgian England. Secondary characters such as Julia, whom readers will want to see star in a book of her own, and both Gus and Harry’s fathers, along with all the necessary hangers-on, draw the reader into a vividly painted time and place. There are no miracle cures here, and Bradford pulls no punches, which makes the story all the richer. The broken leg Harry sustains in his fall has lasting ramifications in physical, social and romantic ways.
Period details create a believable world that fully immerses the reader in Harry and Gus’s reality in every way. Gus must take charge of running the household when her father charges off in pursuit of the errant Julia, and manage the increasingly innovative diversions Harry sends for to pass the time. From managing a pair of rambunctious dogs, in a house where dogs have been banned, to a troupe of Italian musicians and the unexpected arrival of Harry’s father, Gus finds her entire world turned upside down, knocking her off her balance at the same time Harry finds his own. Harry’s father, too, is a man of his time, willing and able to use his rank to see that the proper thing is done to protect the family name.
Bradford skillfully takes this story to a new level with Harry’s determination to prove himself worthy of Gus, whom he wants not only as a lover and wife, but an equal as they begin their new life together. Gus balks at the shift from her quiet country life that a move to London will bring, but when Harry needs her most, that’s when this mouse learns that she too, can roar, and these two individual characters meld into a formidable couple. More concerned for the other’s well being and comfort than their own, Harry and Gus give this new series a firm foundation.
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Anna C. Bowling considers writing historical romance the best way to travel through time and make the voices in her head pay rent. She welcomes visitors to her blog, Typing with Wet Nails and to follow her at Twitter.