The Lady Is Mine
The Lady Is Mine is a completely traditional “trad” Regency in every way…until the reader gets to the love scenes, which would not be out of place in a Regency-set historical. The hero and heroine engage in deliciously improper behavior each time they find themselves alone (thankfully they are betrothed the whole time), and are about to be married by the end of the book when they actually make love for the first time.
By her second season, Harriet Vernon has decided that she is not particularly suited to marriage, and that she would fare better following in the intrepid footsteps of her world-traveling great-aunt. Not only does she fear that marriage would force her to give up all of her independence, but she also feels like the odd one out among the members of her astonishingly beautiful family. Even the hero, Lord Beldon, can’t believe Harriet is her father’s daughter at first, until her pixie-like charms begin to grow on him. The impulsive engagement between Lord Beldon and Harriet causes her to reconsider her plans, although she has her doubts about a match between the two of them. Harriet vacillates throughout the book, never sure of her feelings towards Beldon. At times she is ready to just set him free, especially because she knows he no more keen on marriage than she. At other times she is convinced that her life and his would be complete if they were married with babies in the nursery.
Lord Beldon doesn’t have quite the same problem as Harriet. He’s always known that he will have to marry and produce an heir eventually; he just hadn’t planned to do so quite yet. However, at his grandmother’s urging, he attends a few events during the Season in a half-hearted search for a bride, and it is at one such ball that he quite literally bumps into Harriet. He ignores the jolt of attraction he feels for her because she is the complete opposite of the tall, graceful, elegant and eloquent bride he is planning on. Poor Harriet can only stammer and blush around the handsome Lord Beldon.
After an impulsive kiss in the park, the startled Beldon blurts out a marriage proposal, which an equally startled Harriet accepts. Although Beldon remains polite on the surface, it is here where his behavior becomes less than gentlemanly. He knows he can’t be the one to call off the engagement, so instead of honoring the agreement, he endeavors to convince Harriet to cry off. When he invites Harriet and her family to his estate where she must hold her own against his antagonistic relatives, Beldon promptly ignores the whole group of people in hopes that matters will settle themselves. This doesn’t prevent him from creating situations to be alone with Harriet, where he finds that he can’t resist her. Slowly, the adorable Harriet is replacing his vision of the perfect wife. Although he doesn’t always display heroic qualities, he eventually comes around and proves his love for Harriet.
Although the two are drawn to each other, they each spend much of the book hoping for a way to end the engagement without causing great scandal. While it’s understandable that Beldon is attracted to Harriet without being entirely sure of his feelings for her, he takes way too long to realize that she’s the one for him. He’s had an image of his ideal bride for years, and since Harriet doesn’t quite fit the picture, it’s not very admirable of him to keep finding situations for them to be intimate, especially while he’s hoping his formidable family will scare her into crying off. On Harriet’s part, while she is the proper and rule-abiding young miss most of the time, whenever she is alone with Beldon she loses all of her virginal inhibitions and responds very enthusiastically.
The chemistry between the couple is believable, and I appreciate that neither of them falls straight into love with the other despite an undeniable attraction. Schemes from past flames of both Harriet and Beldon help to move the story along, and a passionate but troubled romance between secondary characters makes for an entertaining subplot. Be warned about the back cover blurb; although it vaguely describes the storyline, it is inaccurate more than once (deeming Harriet, for instance, the belle of the ball).
Any traditional Regency fan who doesn’t mind a slightly spicier tone than usual will find this book an enjoyable read, as will the historical romance reader who usually finds Regencies a bit too tame.