Redeeming Lord Ryder
By Maggie Robinson
Publisher: Kensington / Lyrical Press
Release Date: November 21, 2017
Reviewed by Janga
Nicola Mayfield is returning from a visit with her sister in London when she is injured in a railway accident that leaves her mute. Her parents spend seven months taking her from physician to physician, but none of their remedies, from sticking pins in her tongue to threatening to cut her hair, her one vanity, succeed. Finally, in desperation, they send her to Puddling-on-the-Wold, a nineteenth-century rehabilitation center. Two months into her stay there, she still has no voice. However, she has found a degree of contentment. She misses her family, but she is happy not to feel the weight of their concern. She has no regrets about her broken betrothal, a matter based more on practicality than passion. She is free of most of the restrictions placed upon the village’s guests, she has a housekeeper who treats her kindly and feeds her well, and she finds solace in her music. A life of solitary independence does not seem too bad.
Lord Jonathan Haskell Ryder, known as Jack to family and friends, is the newest resident of Puddling-on-the-Wold. A businessman baron of genius and entrepreneurial spirit, he has amassed a great fortune and acquired an enviable reputation, but his achievements mean little when a careless moment at a foundry he owns leads to an industrial accident that causes a train wreck and leaves two people dead. Jack was not responsible for the accident, and he settles generous amounts on the survivors and the families of the dead. Regardless, he is overcome by guilt and depression and unable to function in the world that had energized him. On his own initiative, he has come to the famous village for help.
Jack and Nicola meet one cold December day when Nicola, on her daily walk, slips on the ice and falls. Jack comes to her rescue, and the two strike up a friendship that soon becomes something warmer. But both see themselves as unfit for a relationship. It will take more slips—not all of them on the ice—and some tough love from Nicola to see this likable pair reach their HEA.
This is the third book in Maggie Robinson’s Cotswold Confidential series, after Schooling the Viscount and Seducing Mr. Sykes, and I am delighted to say that the series started strong and has gotten better with each book. Jack and Nicola are appealing characters who easily win the reader’s affection. They also sustain the reader’s interest, perhaps a more difficult feat. They have real problems, but they are more than their problems. Nicola’s muteness renders her vulnerable, but it does not diminish her quiet intelligence or subtle strength. Jack’s charm is more obvious and his intellect more extraordinary, but his appeal rests on less showy qualities as well, such as his sense of humor and his honor.
One of the strengths of this late-Victorian-set series has been the skill with which Robinson captures the way industrialization affected all areas of life and the growing sense that progress was not delivering all it had promised. That she manages to do this in books bright with laughter makes the series truly remarkable. Much of the laughter is attributable to the community and its residents who, for the most part, are devoted to preserving their livelihood and benevolently disposed toward their guests. I am particularly fond of Dr. Oakley, Ham Ross, and Moll the dog.
If you like historical romance that moves beyond the conventional settings of Regency ballroom or country house party, if you appreciate stories that make you laugh and provide food for thought, I highly recommend Redeeming Lord Ryder. I loved it, and I am hoping for more Puddling-on-the-Wold stories.