Tempted by the Viscount
Tempted by the Viscount is the second installment in Sofie Darling’s Shadows and Silk series. I picked this one up without having read the previous book, and it stands quite well on its own. There are a few references to things I assume took place in book one, but the story made sense aside from that.
Lady Olivia Montfort’s life has been touched by scandal one too many times for society’s liking. For years, she thought herself a widow, believing her husband to have died in battle, but when he turns out to be alive after all, Olivia can’t bear the thought of once again living under his control and so she petitions the House of Lords for a divorce. Her petition was successful, and Olivia now lives with her former father-in-law for whom she cares a great deal. Unfortunately, the reputation of this powerful gentleman isn’t enough to shield her from society’s disapproval, and she finds herself barely received in polite company.
Jakob Radclyffe, Viscount St. Alban, never thought he’d have much use for the strict rules of the British nobility, but he’s a single father now, and he’s in desperate need of the right kind of wife to help his teenaged daughter Mina make a successful début. He figures such a wife won’t be too difficult to find, but his search is derailed when a mysterious man with ties to Jakob’s past appears in London and threatens to ruin Mina’s reputation. Suddenly, Jakob finds himself in need of a woman like Olivia, with her ties to the London art scene, to help him uncover the identity of the stranger.
At first, Olivia doesn’t want anything to do with Jakob. She’s pretty sure he feels nothing but contempt for her and her artistic aspirations, but being a practical sort of woman, she soon realizes he could be of some use to her after all. She’s ready to leave her father-in-law’s household, but it’s impossible for a woman to buy a townhouse of her own without a man to back her. So she and Jakob strike a bargain. She’ll aid him in his search for a wife in exchange for his help procuring a townhouse. What could be simpler?
If historical accuracy is your thing, you’re probably very puzzled by the ease with which Olivia is able to obtain a divorce, especially as it was practically impossible at this time for a wife to divorce her husband. The author doesn’t explain how it came about though, other than to hint that Olivia’s father-in-law brought his influence to bear. The fact that he also shrugged off social convention and then went so far as to allow her to live under his roof doesn’t ring true either. I was able to suspend my disbelief as I read, but I know this is not something all readers will be willing or able to do.
Jakob and Olivia are a great couple. Both of them are initially wary of falling in love, and it was a real joy to watch them give into their feelings. The past has negatively affected them both, but their genuine affection for one another makes them want to overcome their difficulties in mature and meaningful ways. There were a couple of times when I wanted to scream at them to just talk honestly with one another, but this happened far less than it does in a lot of other romance novels. For the most part, Olivia and Jakob are good at communicating their feelings, a fact that bolstered my belief in their long-term commitment to their relationship.
I was able to figure out the identity of the man threatening Mina without too much difficulty, and I kind of wish Ms. Darling had made it a little less obvious. Fortunately, that particular plot point ended up taking a back seat to the romance, so it didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the story too much.
Ms. Darling has penned an enjoyable love story, but it lacks the witty banter that is found in some of my favorite historicals. Instead, she focuses on more serious issues such as the inability of women to take control of their own lives, a fact which may not appeal to all readers. If you’re looking for a light-hearted romance that is historically accurate, this probably won’t be the book for you, but I’m glad I chose to read Tempted By the Viscount, and I’ll probably go back and read the first book in the series at some point in the not-too-distant future.