Nearly a Lady
By Alissa Johnson
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Gideon is there on behalf of his brother, Lucien, to right a wrong done by their stepmother. Before disappearing, Lady Engsly made up charities and doubled expenses so as to pocket half the funds from causes that did exist (like Winnefred) in order to filter money from the Engsly estate. Gideon is attacked upon his arrival at Murdoch House, but understands under the circumstances—Miss Blythe and Miss Ilestone live alone and aren’t used to strange men coming around. When he explains that they were supposed to have been receiving double their yearly annum—eighty pounds—they then explain that they have only been receiving five pounds a year, and not forty. Gideon is appalled and promises them that they will receive back pay and a bonus as restitution. He then hires a full staff for the house along with buying them decent clothes and food. Knowing that the family owes them that and so much more, he asks if there is anything else they’d like. Lilly immediately asks for a London season for Winnefred. Gideon agrees and states that they both shall have one under the care of his aunt, Lady Gwen. Winnefred is against the idea as she has no idea how to behave like a lady, but Lilly explains that she can teach Winnefred what she needs to know and that she won’t go to London without her. Realizing how much it means to her friend, Winnefred gives in to make Lilly happy.
Lilly tells Gideon that she’ll need three weeks to prepare Winnefred for London. He was hoping for just a couple of days (he promised himself years ago that he would never again be responsible for the welfare of another person), but sees the logic in it. And in those three weeks, despite his trying not to, he gets to really know Winnefred and admires her for being so resilient after all she’s been through. When the group finally arrives in London, Gideon finds it difficult to let Winnefred flirt and dance with other men. Will he be able to get past his demons and claim her for himself?
Nearly a Lady is a delightful historical romance featuring a charmingly headstrong heroine and a classically tortured hero. Gideon was the captain of a ship during the war and has nightmares about what he and his crew went through. He doesn’t want the obligation of taking care of others because he feels like he failed at that in the past. But he comes alive around Winnefred. She touches something inside him.
Whether she was in a complicated ball gown or a simple dress, he was the only man who truly saw her. He knew that beneath the fragile silk was the steel spine of a woman who’d confronted a thief in her stable and beaten him to the ground. He knew that behind the soft smile was the unconquerable will that had kept two women alive on five pounds a year. Well-rehearsed manners hid a brash tongue, and the excuse of a headache would keep quiet the fact she was graceless as a limbering army. Only he knew the simple, wild beauty of her. It was a treasure he wanted to hoard. She was a secret he wanted to keep all to himself.
Winnefred is such a likable heroine. She’s had to be strong for so long, that she is unfamiliar with having someone help her. I enjoyed watching her be spoiled by Gideon. The secondary characters of Lilly, Lucien, Lady Gwen, and an adorable goat named Claire add depth and a touch of humor to the story. If you’re a fan of light-hearted historical romance, Nearly a Lady makes a great summer read!
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