Despite Lady Catherine’s love of fencing, she needs to stop pretending to be a boy and fraternizing with men…but not until after the fencing tournament! Her mother plans to marry her off by the end of the season, so this will be her last chance to enjoy her freedom. When she impulsively puts her reputation at risk to save the life of a dashing
competitor, all seems lost when he sees through her disguise, but he vows never to reveal her secret. Thank goodness for gentlemanly honor!
Daniel, Marquess of Huntley, wants to overcome the rumors of his father’s madness so that he can be embraced by London society. His plan is to marry the most proper woman who will have him, and then raise stable, respectable children. He certainly isn’t interested in some hoyden with a penchant for masquerading as a boy and flaunting society’s rules. In fact, he’d prefer to keep his distance.
When an obsessed suitor discovers Catherine’s secret and threatens blackmail, the only path out of social ruin is marriage. But what kind of protection does matrimony provide when a vengeful suitor is plotting the ultimate revenge?
Lady Catherine has a secret and for a lady of the ton it’s a BIG secret. A scandalous secret. A secret that could ruin both Lady Catherine and her family. Lady Catherine is an accomplished fencer. While that is bad enough, the aspect of her accomplishment that would cause her family’s ruination is that to partake of training she dresses as a boy and must enter the men’s dressing room. That she does so in her brother’s company would not preserve her reputation as there is still the matter of her traipsing about in men’s clothing…trousers! Egads!
While it is difficult to imagine living in an era when trousers on a woman and the exposure of one’s ankle is scandalous, Lady Catherine is everything I love in my historical romance heroines – she’s spunky, she’s determined, and she’s fiercely independent. At the same time, she does what she must to keep her secret from her mother and to keep her happy by portraying the dutiful daughter. So it is with much chagrin that Catherine faces her toughest challenge – enduring the husband hunt her mother has planned. As the requisite see and be seen social engagements ensue, Catherine finds it draining as she has less and less time to practice for the upcoming tournament. One of the things I enjoyed most about Lady Catherine’s Secret is that Catherine did not fall in love with Huntley immediately upon seeing him; to the contrary, she sized him up as an opponent as their first encounter took place at the fencing studio – but she did notice that he was handsome. In the same vein, when Huntley first meets Lady Catherine he is intrigued by her contradictions but dismisses her as she does not meet the criteria he has set for a proper wife.
Their relationship actually progresses naturally from physical attraction to fondness to mutual respect until incidents cause them each to realize that despite their best intentions, they have each come to love the other. Consistent with the genre, Huntley and Catherine do not consummate their relationship until after they’re married (don’t act shocked, you knew that was where they were headed) and it was quite the steamy scene. While my review focuses primarily on the romance, Lady Catherine’s Secret has a major romantic suspense storyline that, as expected, threatens Huntley and Lady Catherine both individually and as a couple. Even knowing how books of this genre tend to play out, I was concerned for Catherine’s safety more than once. I thoroughly enjoyed Lady Catherine’s Secret and it has found
a rare place on my re-read list – something not many historical romances achieve. As this is the second book in the series I should note that it is not necessary to read book one first; that said, I so enjoyed the author’s writing style and plan to go back and read It Takes a Spy… as soon as I can.
Catherine made a quick perusal of the occupants in the large fencing salon. She spied only two faces she didn’t recognize, so she paused to assess their fencing abilities as they warmed up with some light sparring. After only a moment, it became obvious that they were friends.
“Look more lively, Huntley,” one of the men said over the sound of clashing steel that filled the room. “You’re dragging. Is your search for a perfect wife wearing you down? It must be a demanding task to locate someone perfectly proper.”
In response, the slightly taller man, Huntley, performed an envelopment, sweeping his friend’s blade through a full circle and controlling the match. Then he lunged forward on his long, muscular legs to score a point. The other man scowled, clearly annoyed.
Huntley moved gracefully as he whipped his foil through the air. He looked lively enough to Catherine. The muscles in his extended rear leg bunched and moved under his tight-fitting breeches, reminding her of jungle cats she’d seen at the London Zoo. A panther, she decided, as he pulled off his mask, revealing his black hair. But his eyes seemed slightly incongruous with that image. They should have been golden brown rather than a clear, bright blue.
Huntley regarded his friend and raised his left eyebrow so high it disappeared behind a lock of his tousled hair. “I’m here tonight to escape all that, and thank you for bringing it up.” He peered at his friend more closely. “What’s bothering you? You’re testy tonight. I’d hoped some light sparring would improve your mood, but I’m beginning to think the only thing that will knock some sense into you is a thrashing.” Huntley slipped on his fencing mask and dropped into an “en garde” stance, raising his foil in a salute. “Maybe I can accommodate you.” When his friend didn’t follow suit, Huntley twitched his foil in a beckoning motion.
Clearly unable to resist the challenge, his friend broke into a fierce grin, slid his fencing mask back in place, and then settled across from Huntley in a similar stance. Soon they were engaged in a brisk, but friendly, duel.
They were both good fencers, but Catherine found her eyes drawn to Huntley. She admired his powerful stance as he moved through a series of lunges. Not only was he tall, but he was quick as well. He’d make a formidable opponent.
With an almost palpable intensity, his alert eyes seemed to notice everything taking place in the room, even as he maintained his focus on his fencing partner.
Just like a predator.
Huntley glanced at her, piercing her with his direct gaze, and he clenched his jaw. Catherine began to smile back, but caught herself and changed her smile to a smirk. Where on earth did she think she was, at some soiree? She fumbled with her foil as she realized she had nearly flirted with the man. How could she have been so careless? She turned her back to him, her face flaming.
Sheridan Jeane writes exciting and emotion-packed historical romances set in the Victorian Era that confront issues of trust and conformity.
With the advent of the industrial age, life was changing. Many people tried to hold on to the old ways of life while others embraced the new opportunities open to them.
Join Sheridan as she explores the clash between the old and the new.
Sheridan has always loved books, history, and stories about amazing people who blaze new trails.
Despite naming their daughter Sheridan because they thought it might someday look great on the cover of a book, Sheridan’s parents urged her in a more practical direction for college. Sheridan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with a minor in English.