by Wendy Soliman
Genres: Historical Romance
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England, 1814 Leah Elliot sells secrets to survive. Donning boy's clothes, she uncovers society scandals for a London gossip rag to support herself and her sister, who were left destitute after their father's death. When she meets the dashing—and perhaps dangerous—Hal Forster, the Marquess of Denby, she learns he may be involved in treason. The rumor is too valuable not to sell, despite her attraction to him… Hal does have a secret, but he's no traitor: he's a spy embroiled in a mystery, seeking the man who killed his contact in France. He sees the alluring woman behind Leah's disguise at once but is intrigued enough to play along…until he realizes that she's the source of the rumors interfering with his investigation and forcing him into an unwanted betrothal. Now, Hal and Leah must work together to draw out the culprit and undo the damage caused by Leah's gossip. Or will their passion only cause more scandal?
I have been on a historical fiction kick this past month, perhaps from the horror overload of reads for Things that Go bump in the Night, so when Lit’ Connect tours had sign ups for Compromising the Marquess, I jumped at the chance to review it. I am so glad that I did as this tale offered suspense, humor, busy bodies and a feisty heroine I came to adore.
Set in England 1814. Leah Elliot and her sister have taken up residence in a seaside town in southern England. With her sister’s poor health and the death of their father leaving them destitute, Leah has taken to donning boy’s clothes at night and uncovering gossip for London’s gossip rag. Accompanied by the local towns preacher’s wife she attends a meeting at the home of Hal Forster, the Marquess of Denby. While his younger brother attends them, she quickly realizes he is hiding and listening. Curiosity gets the better of her and she sets out to discover his secrets. When she discovers he might be involved in treason she has to decide whether to sell out the dashingly handsome Marquess. Hal is not a traitor but a spy for England and he quickly realizes Leah is the source of the rumors that may undo his mission. The two of them begin working together and the chemistry between them is downright steamy. I easily consumed this in day and found myself completely immersed in this pleasurable tale.
I love feisty, intelligent heroines who do what they must for those they love and Leah was perfect. She is inquisitive and it often gets her in trouble. Determined never to marry, she skirts the edge of societies rules with her thirst for knowledge. Hal the Marquess is in a word smexy. A long haired spy who is confident and cocky I loved watching Leah unravel his cool composure. He thinks he is in control. *tisk-tisk* Gabe is Hal’s younger brother and Felicity his younger sister and they were both entertaining. Beth, Leah’s younger sister was sweet. I am hoping we will get their stories. Mrs. Wilkinson the preacher’s wife drove the poor Marquess mad with demands. She is the local gossip and holds him accountable for everything. The girls Aunt is a ghastly woman and I could not wait for her to get her comeuppance. A Frenchman and an investigator as well as the publisher of the gossip rag all added to the suspense and made the tale believable.
Give me suspenseful mystery with twists and a side of hot romance and I am happy. Soliman delivered with a fast paced tale and I quickly found myself enthralled. While some of the mysteries threads I immediately figured out there were other whose twists surprised me. The author did an excellent job of weaving everything together and making it believable. The romance between Hal and Leah was filled with teasing and sexual tension. I loved the references to Fanny Hill and the role it played in their romance. The romance developed slowly and I enjoyed watching it unfold.
I recommend Compromising the Marquess to fans of historical romances wrapped in suspense. I am looking forward to reading more of Soliman’s work and sincerely hope we meet more of these characters again.
I’m a British writer of Regency romance and have been asked to say a few words her about Regency holidays. Ever wonder what persuaded people to start swimming in the sea?
Well, the French Revolution and subsequent Napoleonic Wars ended the English upper class fashion for the Grand European Tour and holidaying at continental spas. Instead the new sea-bathing resorts of Brighton, Lyme and Weymouth became fashionable Regency-era watering-places. Thanks to the Price Regent’s patronage of Brighton and its close proximity to London, Brighton was the most fashionable place to see and be seen in.
Dr Richard Russell was in part responsible for the sea-bathing craze, since he wrote a dissertation in 1750 advising patients with glandular conditions to swim in the ocean and drink the iodine-rich sea water. The price first visited Brighton in 1783 and began taking the sea cure for his swollen glands on subsequent visits. Where the prince went and what the prince did was, naturally, taken up by the fashionable crowd. Thus Brighton soon became the seaside resort chosen by those seeking pleasurable diversions, or cures for illnesses caused by rich food and lack of exercise.
Those wishing to bathe were taken into the ocean inside horse-drawn bathing machines. Men and women entered the water at specified times and on different parts of the pebble beach—the ladies to the east side of town and the gentlemen to the west. That way the sexes couldn’t view each other in revealing bathing costumes, or no costumes at all in the case of the men, more often than not. Some of the more daring ladies also swam in the nude but it was more common for them to swim in short cotton shifts.
Things have changed a bit in the last two hundred years!