Pros: Both the hero and heroine do a wonderful job of maintaining their cover without mistrust becoming a major issue.
Cons: I wish that both of the mysteries presented had been solved, but I suspect that that will happen at the end of the series.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
The Sutherland sisters made a promise to Princess Victoria when they were all girls; they would be there if the future queen ever had need of them. Shortly before her coronation, Victoria asks Laurel, the oldest, to ferret out the truth of a delicate situation. Victoria suspects that her cousin George may be involved in a treasonous plot and thinks that Laurel stands the best chance of getting close to him. But neither Laurel nor Victoria counted on the Earl of Barensforth, George’s friend. An employee of the Home Office, Barensforth is investigating a financial scam that George may be up to his ears in. When he encounters Laurel posing as a young widow, he senses that there is more going on than either of them knows. Both Laurel and Barensforth are determined to find out the truth, and with a but of luck they’ll find something even better…
One of the things that I love about reading romance is discovering just how many different ways that it can be written. Allison Chase’s Most Eagerly Yours, in addition to romance, felt like a small-town cozy mystery to me and I absolutely loved it! It let me watch the romance develop between Laurel and Barensforth as they conduct their investigations without needing to constantly throw them into mortal terror to get the two of them together. And although the pacing wasn’t as quick as some historicals, I didn’t mind it because it fit the more laid-back and relaxed setting of Bath.
Ms. Chase has a wonderful knack for portraying characters from across the spectrum of society. Not only do the readers get to see some unique personalities, but we also get to see just how wide the gap between strata can be as Laurel moves among the wealthy. Her wonder and amazement at how much is spent at times gave me a bit more perspective on class distinctions, but these observations fit seamlessly into the story. It’s also fascinating to watch the range of behavior among the elite alone, from generosity to greed or control to desperation. Uncovering the layers of motive that underlay people’s behavior was absolutely addicting, because I wasn’t always quite sure that I was getting the whole story.
With all of these characters to add color, it’s interesting to watch the dance of curiosity between Laurel and Aidan, Earl of Barensforth. Neither is sure what each other’s motivations are, and so they are trying to fit scraps of information together. Laurel refuses to admit that she’s seen Aidan before, which keeps him confused for a bit, and neither wants to blow their cover. But what really made this book so wonderful to me was that when everyone’s cards were on the table, Ms. Chase deftly avoids the rather stereotypical “you lied to me” fight. Romances wherein the hero and heroine act like adults are generally more appealing to me than hysterical characters that seem to live to pick fights.
The plot is also unlike any that I’ve read before; treason certainly isn’t anything new, but a financial scam involving a large group of people was a new one for me. And yet, the way that it is presented lets the reader understand how it has had such an effect on people who become eager to sign up.
There is a second mystery brought up in the book, which involves Laurel’s family, but I suspect that we readers are going to have to wait until later in the series to find out just what happened and why it occurred. With that being said, it’s a peripheral mystery, and so when I finished the book I didn’t feel as if the ending was incomplete. It feels more like a teaser for the upcoming books in the series.
“Most Eagerly Yours” is a very promising start to what I suspect will be a four book series, and the combination of characters, maturity, and plot was so well balanced that I absolutely devoured this book. It’s not a roller coaster ride of adventure and emotion, but if you enjoy peeling back people’s layers to find out what the real story is then this book is definitely worth picking up. It’s what I think of as a “cozy romance”, and I hope the next book comes out soon, because this is a style of romance that I want more of!