Reviewed by Mandi
“Never get into a cart with a strange man.” And so our journey begins. Due to a set of unforeseen circumstances, Celia Seaton loses her job as a governess and hitches a ride with a stranger in a cart – trying to get to an acquaintances house to sort her life out. Most of Celia’s life was spent with her father in India, but after his death she came back to London to live with her wealthy uncle. But he died before he set aside provisions for her, alas she ends up a governess. She had spent her time in London trying to live up to everyone’s standards but knows she has failed.
But unfortunately for her, this man driving the cart kidnaps her, takes her to a secluded cottage in the country and makes her strip down to her shift. Celia is then left in a stuffy upper floor. But she has had enough with other people steering her course in life. She decides the time is now to defy society and she is not going to worry about just being in her shift nor wait to see what the man will do to her when he returns. She escapes out the window only to find her social nemesis unconscious at her feet.
Tarquin Compton once referred to Celia’s head as a “cauliflower”, ruining all chances she had at a good marriage. Tarquin is revered in the ton. Known for his grand style, and sharp tongue, all look to him to lead in society. So when he forgot Celia’s name for the sixth time they were introduced, and referred to her head as a vegetable, no one in good society would have her. Tarquin loves London, and loathes the country, but no one in the summer stays in London, so he must leave as well. Restless at his country estate, he decides to visit a neighboring estate who is threating a lawsuit against him. But on the way he gets lost, and by chance comes across the same secluded cottage Celia is being held hostage in. Before he has a chance to even know she is there, he gets hit over the head by the kidnapper, robbed of his shirt and other possessions and left unconscious on the ground.
When he awakes, he sees a woman standing over him, but has no memory of who she is, or who he is. He has no memories at all. Celia feels a tiny bit giddy at this. The man she loathes, doesn’t know his identity.
That this should happen to Mr. High-and-Mighty Compton, that the man had no idea he was an abiter of fashion, the darling of the ton, the terror of the unmarried maidens was too bizarre. About to inform him of both their names she caught herself and stopped to give some thought to her predicament.
It was too perfect.
For all the times he snubbed her at balls, she wants to get back at him. So she tells him his name is Terrence Fish, that he is a Vicar and that they are engaged to be married. Terrence/Torquin doesn’t feel this is right, but he has no memory, only this woman who is telling him his life story so he goes with it. The next three days they spend as Terrence and Celia, engaged and Celia realizes under Torquin’s snobbish ton façade, is a very nice, and gentlemanly man. She starts to fall for him – of course until all his memories come rushing back.
The Amorous Education of Celia Seaton is an adorable book. Especially the first half – I laughed out loud more than I have in a very long time. Celia is quite the character and when she decides to tell Tarquin his name is Terrence Fish, her betrothed, there are a few scenes that I still laugh about as I think back to them. Those three days they have together as Terrence and Celia bring them very close. They are so removed from society – tromping through the moors, Celia in her shift and blanket she has wrapped around herself as a skirt, and Torquin in a very ill fitted shirt – something the real Torquin would never be caught dead in.
Of course, the fun must come to an end when Torquin’s memories come flooding back. He is shall we say, a bit upset that she lied to him, and and not only that but let things progress romantically more than they should have (since they are not actually engaged). But through it all, he is a gentleman, and I really liked that after his memories, due to circumstances, Celia is kind of forced to stay in his company. So while she fell in love with “Terrence” she now has the chance to fall in love with “Torquin.” And Torquin now has the chance to realize the ton doesn’t have to rule his life.
Torquin also collects poetry and erotic books. He happens to have an erotic book with him when he is hit over the head, which Celia discovers (and keeps for herself.) So through the book, we get tidbits from this book, as Celia discovers some naughty things you can do with a man. Celia is not shy or afraid of sex, although she is a virgin. She makes a very fun match for Tarquin when it comes to the romance.
“Kiss me,” he growled and her pupils expanded, darkening her eyes. Her mouth swooped in, then stopped. Pulled back.
“Make me,” she whispered.
And their romance is so sweet. Definitely a bumpy road to finally get together, but very worth it. Besides the amnesia and the following conflict once Torquin’s memories come back, the real reason she is kidnapped is that someone is hunting for a ruby, and there is rumor Celia had it. The second half of the book focuses more on this, which ended up being a little more on the silly side, but I conforms with the lighter tone of this book. While the first half of the book is very funny, the second half becomes more serious, but works well as the two of them fall in love.
This is my first Miranda Neville book and I need to go back and read the previous two in the series to meet the other characters. Very witty and very romantic, I definitely want more.