This is the fifth book in the Wicked Dukes series, but stands pretty well alone if you haven’t read any of the rest. I haven’t, and I really had no trouble following along with the action.
I really enjoy the way Erica Ridley reaches for a far-fetched premise to create a really unusual character, and then somehow makes it fit absolutely perfectly into the ‘Regency world’. In this case, Lady Felicity is the sister of a duke, and she and her brother grew up poor before he unexpectedly inherited. She went from having nothing to having everything, and she still has a wide-eyed fascination with the world around her - at one point there’s a lovely line where she says to Giles, the hero, that she doesn’t know what it’s like ‘to have some of the things’. Her life has been one of extremes.
The most unlikely thing about Felicity is the one that makes her the most appealing, because she grew up in a smithy, pretended to be a boy most of her young life, and has an aptitude for carriagemaking far beyond the ordinary. When Giles Langford, the best carriagemaker and the best racing driver in London, is asked to work with Felicity by her brother, Giles can’t help but be fascinated. Soon enough he’s falling for her, but Felicity has plans for her future, plans that involve making an advantageous marriage for the best of reasons - because she wants to set up a charity to help indigent children. It’s a cause close to Giles’ heart, as well, so no matter how he feels, he has to let Felicity go. It’s the right thing to do.
Despite the implausible premise, this works so well as a romance. Giles and Felicity have absolutely everything in common, and it’s very easy to root for them. Not only that, but the author has obviously done her research into the intricacies of carriagemaking and carriage racing, and gets the subtleties of both across without ever boring the reader. I certainly learned a lot!
This is a charming read and one I’d highly recommend if you like unusual heroines, especially those with a scientific bent. Five stars.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review via NetGalley.