Lord Of Secrets by Erica Ridley
This is the fifth book in the series about the Grenville siblings (and friends). The three sisters of the family are unconventional at best, and their brother Heath, in efforts to keep the family name respectable, has somehow managed to become the premier secret-keeper and investigator for Ton insider gossip.
When a new caricaturist with access to the highest of inner circles sets the upper class aflutter, Heath is determined to unmask the owner of the wickedly cruel pen. It’s inconceivable that Nora, quiet companion to Lady Roundtree, could be the artist. She’s too kind to poke fun… isn’t she?
Of course, what Heath doesn’t know is that Nora needs the money. Five pounds per caricature is far too much to pass up for a girl whose brother and grandparents are struggling to keep food on the table at the family farm. Except, when she realizes she’s falling in love with Heath, sworn to hunt down and unmask her own secret identity, massive inner conflicts overwhelm her.
I’m sure you can guess that Heath manages to find out the truth and there’s a huge confrontation. Which was absolutely my favourite part of the book, because Nora is not even remotely the kind of girl who is going to take reproach lying down. She gets right back up in Heath’s face and turns the argument back on him; why is he so angry about the caricatures? How dare the poor see how their betters behave, and laugh at them? It was the most wonderful piece of social commentary as Nora made Heath take a good hard look at himself, and discover he’s no better than some of the most idle and useless aristocrats he professes distaste for.
As part of a series, this does have an interwoven timeline with some of the others, but it can be read reasonably comfortably as a standalone. I’m giving it five stars, for two lead characters I liked immensely and one of the best set-down scenes I’ve read in a Regency-era romance since Jane Austen’s legendary Hunsford proposal.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.