In the Thrill of the Night
In the Thrill of the Night is the first in a series about friends, all well to do widows. They are happy in their single state and independence and keep busy running The Benevolent Widows Fund. One day as they plan their latest charity ball, Lady Gosford announces that she has taken a lover and is having a wonderful time with him. The others are shocked at first, but then they think – why not?
Marianne Nesbitt had married her childhood sweetheart David and the two were very happy. After his death, his best friend Adam Cazenove became a source of strength for Marianne and she came to depend on his kindness and friendship. Adam has a reputation as a ladies man and his name is one the Widows suggest for a potential lover. On one of Adam’s daily visits, he informs Marianne that he is finally engaged to be married. His fiancee, Clarissa Leighton-Blair, is a sweet but naive young woman and Marianne doesn’t think she’s worthy of Adam. Marianne then tells Adam about her friends and their pact to take lovers. Adam is inwardly shocked, but he agrees to help Marianne in her quest. Armed with her list of suitors, he secretly sabotages all of her attempts at catching a lover, and begins to have second thoughts about his own engagement as well.
Adam and Marianne were both as likable as could be, although I thought they were more 21st than 19th century in their attitudes. The scenes during which Adam scares off Marianne’s potential lovers were very funny, especially when Adam lets one of them know that David used to be known as “the rod” and he’d have a hard time “measuring up”.
Actually, Adam made that up about David. Marianne’s marriage had been one of love and respect, but there wasn’t a lot of physical passion between her and David. She had been happy, and had loved David deeply, but gradually over the course of the novel she realizes the strength and power of passion between two people who care for each other. And she comes to see that she and Adam share that passion. It’s a wonderful friends-to-lovers story.
Before the book ends, though, during a scene when it would be logical for Marianne and Adam to pledge their love, instead there’s a mini-misunderstanding that persists for several pages. It felt very artificial and tacked on. That and the anachronistic attitudes of its leads brought this book down to B- level, but as a series this one looks promising.