When I first started reading romances, it was a historical romance that I picked up. Since then, I've always found something comforting about this genre. I'll grab a book by one of my MANY go-to historical romance authors when I'm having a crappy day and need a little pick-me-up.
Today, I'm happy to be touring The Knave of Hearts by Elizabeth Boyle. This historical romance was released by Avon on January 26th. It's the fifth book in Boyle's Rhymes with Love series.
Check out the other stops on the tour at Tasty Book Tours.
In the fifth novel of the captivating Rhymes with Love series from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle, a young woman’s hopes of a match encounter a wickedly handsome complication…
Lavinia Tempest has been eagerly anticipating a spectacular Season. But one disastrous pile-up on the Almack’s dance floor derails all her plans. Add to that, the very stunning revelations about her mother’s scandalous past have become the ton’s latest on dits. Lavinia’s future has gone from shining bright to blackest night in one misstep.
Alaster “Tuck” Rowland admits he’s partly to blame for Lavinia’s disastrous debut. But it’s not guilt that compels him to restore her reputation. Rather, he’s placed a wager that he can make Lavinia into of the most sought-after ladies in London. Who better than an unrepentant rake to set Society astir?
Tuck’s motives are hardly noble. But in teaching the lovely Lavinia how to win any man she wants, he suddenly finds himself tangled in the last place he ever imagined: in love.
The Knave of Hearts is available now!
Goodreads | Goodreads Series
For a young lady who had made a study of all things proper, Miss Lavinia Tempest always seemed to find her fair share of mishaps.
The small fire at Foxgrove. The bunting incident of ’08. And the rather infamous trampling at the Midsummer’s Eve ball two years earlier.
Sir Roger still claimed he didn’t miss those toes.
Of course, he was joking. He’d been very fond of those toes.
And worse, every time Lavinia attended a ball, soiree, or even just the weekly meetings of the Society for the Temperance and Improvement of Kempton, someone (usually Mrs. Bagley-Butterton) had to remind one and all of one of her more recent follies.
So when Lavinia entered the hallowed halls of Almack’s, it was with, she vowed, a fresh start.
A clean slate.
And so it seemed she was right. No one pulled their hem out of the way as she drew near for fear of it being trod upon or worse, the lace being completely ripped away. No one whispered behind their fan, or laid wagers as to who or what would be broken by the end of the evening.
She was, for the first time in her life, merely Miss Tempest, the daughter of the respected scholar, Sir Ambrose Tempest.
“It is just as I imagined,” she said in awe as she and her sister Louisa handed over their vouchers. The perfect place to launch herself into the lofty reaches of London Society.
After all, she’d spent most of the afternoon planning out her evening (when she hadn’t been reading her favorite Miss Darby novel).
First and foremost, she was wearing her new gown—a demure and respectable dress done in the latest stare of modest fashion. And while she had longed for brilliant sapphire silk that had been on the shelf at the modiste’s shop, that color would never do for a debut such as this.
After all, the very rule was on her list:
Proper Rule No. 3. An unmarried lady always wears demure and respectable colors. Such as white. Or a pale yellow. Or an apple green, but only if the occasion permits.
So the blue silk could only be eyed from a distance, and she’d consigned herself to the muslin, for propriety was the order of the evening.
That is if she was to gain the highest obligation of every young lady making her debut Season in London:
Proper Rule No. 1. Marriage to a respectable, sensible, well-ordered gentleman is the order of business for every proper lady.
So she had the gown, entrance into the very heart of the Marriage Mart, and now all she had to do was finish the evening without incident.
But this was Lavinia Tempest, and that was easier said than done.
“No dancing,” Louisa whispered to her as their chaperone, Lady Aveley, led them into the Wednesday evening crush. Her sister held out her hand, pinky extended, and Lavinia wrapped her own finger around it and the two sisters bound their promise together.
In Lavinia’s defense, she had made her promise most faithfully with every intention of remaining safely at the side of the dance floor.
She had demurred when Lord Ardmore had asked. Begging off in a charming fashion that she was “too nervous to dance,” this being her first visit to Almack’s.
She’d even refused the very handsome and dashing Baron Rimswell—though she had been sorely tested for it was only a simple reel, but then one glance at Lord Rimswell’s glossy boots and she’d thought better of it and remained firm to her promise.
But apparently no one had told Mr. Alaster Rowland. Now in his favor, Mr. Rowland’s boots hadn’t a fine gloss and he was rather squiffy from an indeterminate amount of brandy, so even if she had stepped on him, he was drunk enough that it would most likely dull the pain.
I also enjoyed the chemistry between Tuck and Lavinia. I thought it was pretty strong, and I enjoyed their interactions and the blossoming of feelings between them. There's an intriguing cast of secondary characters, and some activities happening in the background of this story that I assume feature in other books in the series. I definitely would like to read more about many of them. They're a colorful lot, and I feel invested in them!
I did find a few things were 'miss' for me, and they were definitely personal preference things. One is that I didn't like the way the story was framed so that a good chunk of the story was Lavinia recounting what had brought her to the current day in the story. The set-up is not one of my favourites, and I think if I had read other, earlier books in the series that had narrated a different side of events to that point, I might have liked it more. But because I came to this book first, I found this 'looking back to the past' set-up didn't add anything.
I was also frustrated by how handcuffed Lavinia was by circumstances. So much of the early and mid story is really about her having to react to and cope with events caused by others in her life. I was glad when she finally was able to exert some agency, and chart her own course, but yeah... This is purely personal frustration. If the reader embraced Lavinia's journey more fully than I did, I think the book would be that much more fun to read!
Elizabeth Boyle is a reliable historical romance writer, and I recommend you pick up anything written by her! The Knave of Hearts has moments of levity, of heat, of chemistry, of frustration. Definitely a great read heading into Valentine's Day, and even more so if you've already started the series.
For fans of historical romance, bad bets, women who dare.
About the Author
ELIZABETH BOYLE has always loved romance and now lives it each and every day by writing adventurous and passionate stories that readers from all around the world have described as “page-turners.” Since her first book was published, she’s seen her romances become New York Times and USA Today bestsellers and win the RWA RITA Award and the Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice awards. She resides in Seattle with her family, her garden and always growing collection of yarn. Readers can visit her on the Web at www.elizabethboyle.com.