This book was reviewed via Netgalley
First in the Rogues to Riches series, Ridley’s Lord of Chance sweeps us back in time, to England’s Regency period. Charlotte Devon is a young woman traveling alone through Scotland, searching for her father. All she has for clues are a name, and some family jewels. At the amusingly named Kitty and Cock Inn, Charlotte is allowed to join a gambling table, where the vagaries of fate win her the services of Anthony Fairfax for the night. While he teased otherwise, Anthony is content to serve in the most mundane capacities requested, in this case, serving as a hallboy for the night. He had his own reasons for wagering a night of service. Win or lose, those needs are met.
In the wake of several misunderstandings, when Anthony pretends to be Charlotte’s husband in order to protect her from undesirables, the pair find themselves married in truth due to quirks of Scottish law intended to preserve the virtue of maidens from unscrupulous men who might take advantage of them. To compound things, debt collectors have found Anthony, and witnessed his declaration of being married. If he cannot repay his debts, Charlotte’s family jewels will be seized towards them, and Anthony will be sent to the infamous Marshalsea prison. Now, as the pair travel back to London, they must get to know one another- both the good sides and the bad, yet both have secrets they are reluctant to reveal to a near stranger. And they dare not consummate this false marriage, despite the growing attraction, or an annulment will not be possible.
This is one of my first forays into romance, a genre I have long avoided. As one who prefers historical fiction, a romance in this genre seemed just the ticket. Regency England is not an era I am familiar with, though it’s close enough to eras I do enjoy. Victorian is a big favourite. I loved Ridley’s attention to detail, and to language. I did grow somewhat weary of the word ‘fashionable’, though. I’m not really sure why. It was appropriate to context.
Reading this got me to thinking that, while romance is considered by many to be ‘trite’ and ‘shallow’, a romance writer’s job is harder in some ways. These stories are more character driven than plot driven. They have to dig deeper in their characters heads. There may also, as in this case, still need to be a lot of research done.
While I occasionally found Charlotte, and Anthony’s musings somewhat angsty, I had the realisation that, well, this is quite rather how people blather on inside their heads. Where no one can hear, and we argue only with ourselves, we play, and replay, and replay our deepest fears and darkest secrets, turning molehills to mountains with self-criticisms, ‘what ifs’, and ‘could have beens’. We make assumptions about others and their motivations all the time, and more often than not, when the truth is revealed, we couldn’t have been further from it if we had tried. Anthony’s thoughts were so sweet, even when he was being incorrigible. Yet it was Charlotte, with her terribly low self-worth, that I could identify with most. I suffer the same, and it sucks.
This book gave me a greater appreciation for a genre I previously disdained and helped me be more willing to try others in the future. I hope delving into other sub-genres besides historical will lead to the same satisfactory results. I’ll certainly be on the lookout for future works by Ridley.
????? Recommended for those who like historical romance