The Viscount's Veiled Lady
Grade : B

In this third book in her Whitby Weddings series, author Jenni Fletcher pens a tender romance between a man who has allowed his past to imprison him and a young woman whose facial scarring has caused her to fashion a prison, of sorts, for herself.  The Viscount’s Veiled Lady is not without its weaknesses, but the central relationship is nicely developed and the hero and heroine are both likeable characters who have to learn to stop playing it quite so safe if they’re to have the life – and love – they deserve.

Frances Webster was injured in an accident some years earlier and was left with a scar down one side of her face.  Self-conscious and feeling that her mother is embarrassed by her looks, Frances rarely attends public events and when she does go out, she never leaves home without wearing a veil.  Knowing her ugly scar has ruined her marriage prospects – her former fiancé called off their engagement after the accident and she doesn’t expect to ever have another suitor – Frances has started to plan for an independent future.  She’s having some success making jewellery from the jet that is found abundantly on the nearby beach and selling it to local shops at a decent profit, even though she knows her family will be horrified at the thought of her engaging in ‘trade’.

When the story opens, her sister, Lydia – whose year of mourning for her husband isn’t quite up – is begging Frances to take a message to Arthur Amberton, Viscount Scorborough, who is a near neighbour and former suitor.  She wants Frances to persuade him to call, but Frances is uncomfortable, knowing Lydia is husband hunting.  Lydia is beautiful, spoiled and used to getting her own way, carelessly insisting that it’s perfectly alright for Frances to visit a young man without a chaperone as she has no reputation to damage (the implication being it’s because she’s no longer a marriageable young woman).  Hurt, but not particularly surprised by her sister’s callousness, Frances gives in when Lydia threatens to tell their parents of her jewellery making activities.

Unusually for a viscount, Arthur Amberton refuses to live at the family seat, Amberton Castle, as it holds too many painful memories, and instead maintains a small farm near the village of Sandsend.  When Frances arrives there, she’s surprised to find it deserted – until she ventures into the house and is confronted by a large, muscled, almost-naked young man emerging form one of the rooms.  Frances doesn’t recognise him – the Arthur she’d known had been slender and elegant – and bolts, running out of the house before he can stop her.  When he catches up with her, Frances has slipped and turned her ankle – and in spite of her protests, Arthur insists on carrying her back to the house to make sure no serious damage has been done.

Back when he’d been courting Lydia, Arthur and Frances had become friends of a sort; unlike Lydia’s (many) other suitors, he’d never dismissed her younger sister and had taken the time to talk to her and treat her as an adult.  As the days and weeks pass, Arthur and Frances renew their friendship, albeit in secret; Frances doesn’t want to hurt Lydia’s feelings by admitting that she’s spending time with Arthur even though he’s made it very clear that he has absolutely no interest whatsoever in seeing Lydia again.  In Arthur’s company, Frances  rediscovers the bright, vivacious girl she used to be, and while she believes she’s unattractive because of the scar on her face, Arthur doesn’t agree – he looks at Frances and sees only her – and realises that for the first time in years he feels like himself and whole again. Their romance is nicely done; although both of them have reasons for thinking they should try to fight their mutual attraction there’s definite chemistry between them and I particularly liked the way they support one another and encourage each other to step out of their comfort zones.

I mentioned that the book has weaknesses, and these are principally to do with certain events in Arthur’s past and his reaction to them.  He holds himself responsible for his father’s death, and also questions his mental health based on one (isolated) incident, citing that concern as his reason for eschewing marriage.  The black moment that comes near the end and threatens his and Frances’ happiness is somewhat flimsy as well – and it’s been and gone in almost the blink of an eye, which made me question the need for its presence at all.

Those quibbles apart, however, The Viscount’s Veiled Lady was an enjoyable read, and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone in the market for a gently moving, character-driven romance.

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Reviewed by Caz Owens

Grade: B

Book Type: Historical Romance

Sensuality: Subtle

Review Date : January 26, 2019

Publication Date: 01/2019

Review Tags: Harlequin Historical

Recent Comments …

Caz Owens

I’m a musician, teacher and mother of two gorgeous young women who are without doubt, my finest achievement :)I’ve gravitated away from my first love – historical romance – over the last few years and now read mostly m/m romances in a variety of sub-genres. I’ve found many fantastic new authors to enjoy courtesy of audiobooks - I probably listen to as many books as I read these days – mostly through glomming favourite narrators and following them into different genres.And when I find books I LOVE, I want to shout about them from the (metaphorical) rooftops to help other readers and listeners to discover them, too.
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