Reviewed by Mandi
I’m a really big fan of Kate Noble’s books and highly anticipate each one. In her previous book, Follow My Lead, we briefly met Sarah Forrester, and she made quite an impact on me. I think I even mentioned in my review that I was hoping she would be a heroine. Well, my wish was granted. When we meet poor Sarah in this book, she is quite depressed. Engaged to the Duke of Rayne, she is very happy, until he admits to her he is in love with another woman. Sarah goes from being the belle of the town to The Girl Who Lost a Duke. She hopes to ride out the scandal in the country, but when her family returns to London for her sister’s first season out, she is still The Girl Who Lost a Duke. She can’t escape the gossip and has no idea what to do with herself. She is soon rescued by Phillippa Worth (the heroine from Revealed). Phillippa is the leader of the ton, and what she says goes. Long ago, Phillippa needed to change the public’s perception of her, so she feels for what Sarah is going through and decides to help her. Not only by staying by her side in public, but teaching her how to gain control in every situation. Sarah goes from The Girl Who Lost a Duke to The Golden Lady, whom every man wants.
Lieutenant Jackson Fletcher is not in love with a woman, but with a boat. He has been aboard his beloved Amorata since the age of 16, but now she’s old and must be returned to London for assessment. Jack has enjoyed years of adventure and war and just being at sea. His life had great purpose. But now, if the ship is deemed unacceptable, his naval career might be over. He spent his childhood years in the company of the Forresters, having played with a young Sarah and her sisters quite a bit. With his parents gone, Lady Forrester (Sarah’s mother) never stopped writing him letters, keeping him as current as possible on the events in London. Lady Forrester has insisted Jack stay with them while his ship is assessed. What he does not expect to find is a very different Sarah.
Even though Jack hasn’t seen Sarah in quite some time, he knows she has changed. She is cold and talks cruelly to other people. She glows when gobs of men follow her around.
"Jackson," she said coolly, her lips curving up in the smallest of smiles. "Or should we address you as Lieutenant now?"
It was the oddest thing. Here he had been, caught up in the enthusiasm of being received by the family he thought of as his own, blushing with the joy of it, and suddenly, Sarah had floated in and sounded …
It set his back up, and set off alarms in his head.
He misses the Sarah who used to have fun and sneak the newspaper from her father so she could read the articles. Sarah sees a Jack who is angry that he no longer has a goal in life. These two butt heads, quite hard, and it takes a long while for the ice to be chipped off their attitudes toward each other.
That sets up how these two start their relationship, but there is so much more to this book. For fans of this series (although this can be read as a stand-alone), notorious spy The Blue Raven comes back into play, as well as Marcus and brother Byrne (two of my most favorite heroes). Jackson gets mixed up with them in what turns out to be a fun, yet suspenseful storyline. Sarah’s hero growing up was The Blue Raven, and she loved hearing stories about him. Jack uses this information in a plan in which he pretends to be The Blue Raven, trying to give Sarah more focus on her life before the big scandal.
Sarah is a hard heroine to like at first. But I had the same feeling when I read Revealed, which features Phillippa. Now that she is guiding Sarah to becoming The Golden Lady, I saw many similarities. I really enjoyed that Jack did not let Sarah’s snobbery slide. While they are waltzing, she tells him that maybe he needs to start courting ladies who have money so he can be supported should his ship not sail again. He literally leaves her in the middle of the waltz. Sorry, Sarah, but I cheered for Jack at that point.
I kind of wish we saw Sarah have a little bigger transformation from snobby Golden Lady back to regular, fun Sarah. I believed in their romance (which takes a long time to bloom, which felt very realistic), but I still wanted her to be a little more humble. But I did see how they were both a little lost in their lives. They both thought they had their future set, and they were both handed big disappointments. Their romance takes a sweet turn and, along with the exciting ending, I enjoyed this one.
Note: This review first appeared at USA Today’s Happy Ever After.