My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it
Amber Marie Sterlington, the Rage of the Season in Regency-era London, has her pick of men, and she knows what she wants most in a husband: a title and a fortune. Why would she ever marry for something as fickle as love? And why would she ever look twice at Thomas Richards, a third son of a country lord?
But when Amber’s social standing is threatened, the character of her future husband becomes far more important than his position. After a public humiliation, she finds herself exiled to Yorkshire. Alone except for her maid, Amber is faced with a future she never expected in a circumstance far below what she has known all her life. Humbled and lonely, Amber begins to wonder if isolation is for the best. Who could ever love her now?
I don't normally enjoy reading stories where the main character is so flawed that she is unlikeable, but in this case the author did such a fabulous job with Amber's character arc. Amber's vulnerabilities and motivations for her attitudes and behavior are revealed as we get to know her and her family situation. As a sister to three, I could even relate to some of her sibling rivalry and frustrations. I don't want to give anything away, but the trial that sends Amber to the far north country and outcast from her family and society is one that is truly humbling. I loved Suzanne, her lady's maid who unwillingly accompanies her and learns to find the good in their situation and the good in Amber. They lean on each other and become sisters of a sort as they fend for themselves in a meager cottage without the amenities they are used to.
Thomas is presented as something of an anomaly in England's high society- a man who would rather work his own farm than rely on an annual income from his brother. A man who values the character of a person over their standing in society. His own quality of character becomes apparent to Amber as she forms a friendship of sorts with him during her exile and gives her the hope than she can be accepted for the improved individual she has become despite her outward appearance.
(Thank you to Shadow Mountain Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)