Follow My Lead
I really like what I’m seeing from some of the new – or relatively new – authors on the scene. There’s a lot of originality out there, and some damn good writing too. Follow My Lead is a great example of this trend. It’s a well-written road romance that takes place primarily in Bavaria and Austria. It’s delightfully different and decidedly worth reading.
Jason Cummings, Duke of Rayne, knows that he has to marry. But finding the right woman in a city full of mercenary schemers is harder than it sounds. He takes some refuge in belonging to the all-male Historical Society. Well, mostly all male. As he approaches the Society headquarters one day he interrupts a scene between Winnifred Crane and her hulking fiancé, George. Winnifred is determined to gain entrance into the Society so she can be formally acknowledged as C.W. Marks, a daring new historian on the academic scene. Winn has spent her life in Oxford, following in her historian father’s footsteps. George, her fiancé and cousin, would prefer to see her in her proper place – as his wife, where she can support him by writing papers that he can pass off as his own. He tries to stop her from entering the Society’s doors, at which point Jason accidentally walks into Winn’s outstretched hand and sends the proof of her academic identity flying into a fountain. Since he feels somewhat responsible – and since he knows that nothing in the Society’s charter expressly forbids women from membership – he helps her gain entrance. Once there, she strikes a bargain with the head of the Society. She believes that the prize Dürer painting in the headquarters is a fake. If she can prove her allegations (by taking a trip to Switzerland) she will be admitted into the Society and acknowledged as C.W. Marks.
On the side, Winn makes a deal with George. If she can prove her allegations, George will stop fighting her for her inheritance. If she fails, she’ll come home immediately and marry him. George has no intention of allowing Winn to succeed. He plans to accompany her on her journey to Switzerland and thwart her plans. What Winn doesn’t tell him is that she’s actually going to Nuremberg. And how does Jason fit in? He agrees to accompany the travelers to Dover at the request of the Society’s president, spies Winn boarding an entirely different ship than the one she is supposed to be on, and follows her. He loses his money, gets hit on the head, and before you know it they are both on their way to Hamburg.
What follows is a road romance – an utterly delightful one. Jason and Winn have to make their way to Nuremberg and then Austria with very little money and a lot of creativity. As they journey, they fall in love. Well, of course they do, but it’s not quick or pat. It’s fun and believable. The setting is absolutely fabulous and completely different from anything I’ve read in recent memory.
I enjoyed the characters also, though Winn is a little standoffish and harder to know. One can see why; she’s been raised in a man’s world, and has very little opportunity and freedom to pursue her passions. In fact, this is the first time she’s even had passions of a romantic nature; all her previous passion has been channeled into her work. I liked Jason immediately. He’s a redhead with a voracious appetite (a problem that frequently come up during their journey). He’s gentlemanly, funny, and supportive. Frankly, I just couldn’t see a downside to him. The secondary characters are fun as well, though most of them are just people the travellers meet in passing.
The one flaw for me was that Winn’s behavior toward the end of the book was a little hard to understand. I would have liked to have seen her fight a little harder for what she wanted. Other than that, this book is nearly perfect, and absolutely should not be missed. Kate Noble is an author to watch. If you’ve been craving a well-written road romance with an unusual setting, Follow My Lead is the book for you.