What a good writer Judith Ivory is! The Indiscretion neatly divides into two parts, and if I could have graded simply the first part, it would have been an A+. It is in this part of the book that main characters Sam Cody and Lydia Bedford-Browne are forced to spend time on the moors in Dartmoor. The second half of the book, which takes place in Lydia’s home, seems both slightly overstuffed and rambling, only to return to its former glory in the delightful finale. Still, it is overall a very fine read from an author nearly at the top of her game.
Lydia Bedford-Browne, the daughter of The Viscount Wendt has gone to attend Rose, her maid’s wedding. The plan is for Lydia to leave after the wedding and take a coach to visit her cousin Meridith for a few days while Rose and her husband have a brief honeymoon. Then Rose and Lydia will go back home and all will be as usual. For the sheltered Lydia, a ride in a coach by herself is a thrilling adventure.
There is one other passenger in the coach, Sam Cody, an American from Texas who is battered and a bit drunk. A few hours earlier, Sam tried to chase down a couple of purse snatching thieves and got a beating from them. Sam’s playing the good Samaritan made him late for his wedding and now, his bride will not speak to him. But since there are only Sam and Lydia in the coach speeding across Dartmoor, they have to speak to each other, and this is where the book begins to shine.
Judith Ivory can write some of the most wonderful dialogue I have ever read. Sam and Lydia’s voices are so utterly right for their personalities that I can hear them speak in my head. Sam is Texan thorough and through without in any way being one of the stereotypical “aw shucks ma’am” cowpokes who proliferate in the romance world. As for Lydia, she is every inch the English Lady, but with a streak of fire and passion that she has kept fiercely tamped down until the coach has a wreck and Lydia and Sam are marooned on the Dartmoor.
Attention all aspiring writers: Read this section carefully if you want to see how a master writer handles conflict, attraction and sexual tension. This is as close to perfect as a romance could be – everything worked. The tension and attraction between Sam and Lydia built and built until they consumate their attraction in love scenes that are – well, they are simply superb – as luscious and sensual as anyone could want, and well-written to boot.
When Sam and Lydia are rescued, the pace slackens and the story goes off in several directions. This is where I think Judith Ivory tried to put in a little too much. There is Sam’s real status, his past, Lydia’s parent’s relationship, her longing for love, her resentment of the whole concept of women as property, and her brother’s sexual orientation. It’s all a lot to cram into the last half of the book. However, there are scenes in this part that are as good as any Ivory has done. The scene where Lydia and Sam bargain over who is the better shot in archery (if he wins, he wants her knickers) reminded me of the scene in The Proposition where Mick bargains to see Winnie’s legs. And the ending, which takes place at an archery competition, had me smiling big time.
When a book is this good, I can overlook some historical faux pas, but there is a big one here that I have to mention. The Prince and Princess of Wales are addressed as “Your Royal Highness” not “Your Majesty;” Bertie’s mother Queen Victoria would not be amused.
In the world of historical romance, Judith Ivory is a stand-out. I can think of few writers who can handle Victorian and Edwardian settings as well as she can. Lots of writers are called unique, but Judith Ivory truly deserves that title.