A Perfect Gentleman
In Candace Camp’s newest historical romance, an estranged couple come together again after a decade-long separation. Older and wiser, are they both willing to take chances on each other, or will the pride and prejudice that separated them the first time thwart them again? A Perfect Gentleman is a second-chance romance that also serves as a meditation on love and commitment, and is sure to delight fans of Ms. Camp and historical romance in general.
All Abigail Price wanted was a husband who loved her. She knew part of her job, as the daughter of an American mogul, was to marry an Englishman with a title, but she secretly hoped and prayed for a love match. When her father arranged for her to marry the handsome Earl of Montclair, Graeme Parr, she was overjoyed. Not only would he save her from the emotional abuse regularly inflicted on her at home, but he was everything she ever dreamed of finding in a husband.
Unfortunately, however, he was also completely in love with someone else. And even more unfortunately, he made it quite clear on their wedding night that he loathed her.
Not one to suffer fools, Abigail took herself and her new title back to America after her marriage and remained there for the better part of a decade. She and Graeme remained married, of course, but existed completely separately and both were quite content with the arrangement.
We enter this story through Graeme’s PoV, as he learns of his wife’s return. He’s spent ten years playing the dutiful husband; supporting her financially, not publically messing around on her, not divorcing her. He’s never really understood why she left, but her departure fit quite nicely into his belief that she’s a blackmailer and a thief. You see, while Abigail was under the impression that her marriage was a straightforward business transaction, it was actually a bit of extortion on the part of her father that led to the deal. While Abigail is completely innocent of any wrongdoing, Graeme assumed at their wedding and continued to assume throughout their separation that she was in on the plot. He happily ignored his wife and continued to pine for a woman he could not have.
Thus, Graeme is not particularly thrilled that Abigail is back. He’s especially peeved that she seems in no hurry to see him and has a young male companion with her. When they finally meet, Abigail informs Graeme she has come to deliver an ultimatum: give her a baby, or give her a divorce.
They strike a deal that Abigail will remain in London and act as wife until she delivers a child. Of course, as they spend more time together, they realize their actions and assumptions towards the other were wrong. They discover that they are actually a love match, just as Abigail always dreamed, and their story is absolutely lovely.
What is less successful is the mystery subplot woven throughout the story. You see, either Abigail is the clumsiest person on planet earth, or someone is trying to harm her. I wasn’t nearly as gripped by this aspect of the story as I think Ms. Camp wanted me to be, especially since one of the possible culprits was the woman Graeme was in love with. I have a particular irk against woman vs. woman storylines and while this one is resolved well, I didn’t love the journey through it.
Overall, however, A Perfect Gentleman fits soundly within Ms. Camp’s oeuvre and fans will not be disappointed. If you’re a fan of regency era romance and have not read this author, this is a great one to start with. The dialogue is witty, the plot is engrossing, and the construction of place is rich. I loved that Graeme and Abigail are a bit older, and a whole lot wiser, and their conversations reflect that. Their emotional vulnerability and self-reflection is refreshing, especially as they discuss the business bits of marriage and parenting. I closed the book with a happy sigh, wishing the two of them all the best as they start this new chapter in their marriage.