By Nicky Penttila
What’s the harm in a little white lie?
Especially when it could carry so much good: a new life for a wounded soldier, catharsis after long years of war—and an opportunity for lady composer Olivia Delancey to finally hear her music played in public.
Newspaper publisher Will Marsh refuses to compound the sins of his father’s generation by taking money to print propaganda. But with the end of the wars in France and America, he needs something new to drive Londoners to grab his paper first. Why not publish the score of the “Tune That Took Waterloo,” by a wounded vet, no less?
As Olivia struggles to keep her secrets from this unsuitably alluring publisher, and Will fights to find the truth without losing his hold on this bright-eyed angel who has descended into his life, both discover another sort of truth.
Being the talk of London can be bad—or very, very good.
The newspaper-publishing setting is very rare in regencies but fascinating to the author, a former newspaperwoman.
Music plays a big role: Olivia plays pianoforte and Spanish-style guitar; there are three very different concerts in the story.
Water also is big: the hero falls in the sound and nearly drowns; the heroine surprises the hero during a steamy bath.
Olivia lies to help a wounded veteran and he is a strong secondary character. Services and conditions for war veterans were poor at this time.
If you are into Historical Romance this is the book for you. Now it was difficult for me as I am not a fan, and still am not, but gave it a try. Never know until you try, right? I had the opportunity to review the Audible version of this book and thought it to be very well done. The narrator’s voice was perfect for the job. You could tell when there was a character change and get a feel of the emotions outside the words. There was great detail due most likely to the great research done by the author. The romance level is said to be a 2 and I find that to be accurate. It is just a little more than kissing and hand holding but not by much. Even though it wasn’t my kind of book, I do think that a fan of this genre will love it. Happy reading everyone!
Olivia’s face mirrored her surprise. She had lost track of him for only a moment, and yet he had snuck all the way up on her. Had he caught her surreptitiously watching him?
“The music does not inspire you?” He gestured at Rosa, but his gaze remained on her.
“It does,” she said, trying to pull on her familiar careless-girl mask. “I must ask after her tailor.”
“That sentiment isn’t worthy of you.” He whispered, but he could have spoken aloud, as little attention as anyone was paying them in the midst of Rosa’s aggressive arpeggios. “Jealous?”
Her mask faltered. “I did not mean it so.”
“Then how?” He slipped to her other side, effectively cutting her off from Mr. Mellon, who did not seem to notice. Too close. She took a step to the side, turning to face her interlocutor.
“She is part of our family now.” Her voice sounded breathy, unsure.
“I heard you arranged this performance.” He stepped closer. “That shows a spirit of generosity, despite your words.”
“She deserves the opportunity. And it is right to salute Spain.”
“Our esteemed ally.” He nodded, leaning in. “But perhaps it is difficult, to see a woman who is allowed the freedom to perform, to create? Who can let her hair down in mixed company?”
He looked away from her a moment, gazing at Rosa. Olivia did not dare look away from him. She let out the breath she didn’t realize she had been holding. Her mind was addled; she was reacting too strongly to this man, to his words. To his smell, deep and rich. Sandlewood, but hints of the flesh within.
The corner of his mouth turned up. He teased her? The thought cast out her breath again. Her ears had a buzzing in them, unrelated to the passionate rhythm of the guitar.
He could read her. He saw far too much. She reached out to touch him, no, to push him away. He turned at her movement, stepping into the path of her hand.
A thrill of power coursed through her arm. It filled her center with energy of an unfamiliar sort. Unable to stop herself, she jumped. Then quickly looked around to see if anyone saw.
She could never make a scene. Not here in public. She took another step back, pulling her hands tightly behind her, as if they were tied.
Step by step, they sidled to the side of the great room. Toward the shadows.
“Are you disappointed your fiancé found someone else?”
“It isn’t that.” She was not quite sure she could call up a vision of Richard at the moment. Her awareness was centered on the man in front of her.
They passed the seven-foot-high sterling candelabra and into the shadows, far from the crowd. Olivia would not have believed she could feel so alone in the midst of a gala. Alone, but for one other.
Nicky Penttila writes stories with adventure and love, and often with ideas and history as well. Her favorite settings are faraway cities and countries, because then she *must* travel there, you know, for research. She lives in Maryland with her reading-mad husband and amazing rescue cat. She’s chattiest on Twitter, @sunshinyday, and can also be found at nickypenttila.com and on Facebook.
Member of: Washington Romance Writers (Romance Writers of America), The Beau Monde (RWA), Historical Novel Society, National Association of Science Writers
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