Release Date: May 24th, 2022
Genre: Regency Romance
Rating: 5/5 Stars
What an absolutely beautiful novel. Including the stunning cover! I love it, and it matches so perfectly with how Viola is portrayed in the novel.
Right upfront I will say I think the novel itself is a touch on the long side at 460 pages, but overall this is truly a lovely, queer historical romance that will absolutely hit the spot if you’re a fan of Regency Romance. And, of course, if you know any other queer Regency Romance books out there please throw your recommendations at me!
Also worth noting if you are thinking of picking this up, you might want to look into the content and trigger warnings – Hall puts it really well at the beginning of the book, but there is a lot of misgendering and deadnaming for the first part of the book, largely due to the situation Viola is in. No one directly calls her by the wrong pronouns or name, but some characters believe Viola died at Waterloo, and refer to her by the name she used before then.
Viola entered the war alongside her oldest, dearest friend, Justin de Vere. But when Viola is injured and presumed dead, she uses the chance to fully embrace her true self. Returning home, her brother takes on her title, and only he and her sister-in-law know her past, and Viola becomes a companion to her sister-in-law. But when she is dragged to Gracewood’s estate, she sees the toil grief has taken on him, and realises the true extent of her feelings.
I loved seeing this world through Viola’s eyes, and as far as I could tell I think Hall did an excellent job (as always, however, I encourage people to seek out OwnVoices reviews). Viola being a trans woman is a core part of her character, but it’s not the source of her pain or the issue that prevents her and Gracewood truly being together. There’s little misery here, or dwelling on what can’t be helped. We see their relationship develop, and we have some delightful moments with the other characters around them.
There’s also, towards the end, a very Regency Buck-like mystery that develops, and Viola and Gracewood set out together to solve it, providing a very wonderful climax. It works really well, and I definitely think this is the type of book which nods back to Heyer; fans of her works will really enjoy it.
The main difference between this and Heyer’s works – there’s sex. There’s wonderful, joyous sex between Viola and Gracewood. Worth noting Gracewood is physically and mentally injured from the war, and this is never pushed to the side; his disability and PTSD are written with great care and attention, and taken into account when they do sleep together.
Honestly, despite being on the long side, this was so enjoyable to read, every step of the way.
Other Regency Romance Reviews: