|Saving Lord Verwood is a thoroughly enjoyable Regency with two solid lead characters. The plot seems to wander around after the first half, but the romance develops beautifully.
Penelope Talcott lives in Brighton with her aunt and uncle, who are hoping to marry her off for a handsome settlement. Pen wishes nothing more than to marry Cyril Welling, the local vicar back in her home village, and settle into country life with a brood of children. She is hoping that her Season in Brighton will fail and Cyril will propose. After all, they have a mutual ďunderstandingĒ.
While out walking on the headlands above the sea one day, Pen inadvertently saves the life of Lord Robert Verwood, a London rake who has come to Brighton to settle a score with a local nobleman. Robert once pursued a friend of Penelopeís (in The Incorrigible Lady Catherine) and Pen locked horns with him over that situation. Now they are face to face again.
Robert appreciates Penelopeís help in saving his neck, and feels the least he can do to repay her is to try and improve her standing in Brighton society. He is, after all, an earl. The tables are turned, though, when Penelope is attacked while taking a fashionable sea bath and Robert rushes to save her, carrying her wet form up onto a public beach and ruining Penís reputation in the process.
Cyril Welling cries off, much to Penís disgust, and Robert proposes that he and Pen marry, instead. It will seem to solve most of their problems. Robert wants an heir; Pen wants a family of her own, and they are at least friends, if not in love. But Robertís past holds a secret, one having to do with a scandalous affair with a young woman that ended in tragedy. Or did it? As Pen and Robert try to settle into marriage, the specter of Robertís first love will come back to haunt him.
The structure of this story hooked me. I loved the fact that Pen and Robert entered marriage knowing they were not in love, but that the possibility existed that they could be. When the two headed off to Robertís estate, I settled back in happy anticipation of a romance building out of friendship as these two got to know one another. Alas, the romance is sidetracked by a suspense plot involving the former love that felt intrusive at best. She was, to put it bluntly, simply in the way. A good conversation between Pen and Robert would have eliminated mush of her purpose in the book.
Itís a shame, really, because the romance is moving and feels genuine. Pen and Robert are immensely likable characters. Both secretly yearn for a deep and lasting love, and neither trusts their heart. As their friendship deepens into something much more, the potential for a keeper story is tantalizing.
Elena Greene is a newish Regency author and her talent is undeniable. It will be interesting to watch her career develop. I think she has the potential to be one of the most interesting Regency authors out there. Hopefully sheíll trust the romance to carry the story next time, as she does it so well.