cover image An Earl, the Girl, and a Toddler

An Earl, the Girl, and a Toddler

Vanessa Riley. Zebra, $15.95 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-4201-5225-8

Surviving a shipwreck is the first of many hurdles for a headstrong white West Indian woman in Riley’s Gothic-tinged second Regency romance (after A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby). Jemina St. Maur is one of two survivors of the Minerva, which went down on its voyage from Jamaica to England, and she lost her husband, her memory, and her freedom in the disaster. Unable to tell the authorities who she is, she’s thrown into Bedlam, where she remains until rescued by Daniel Thackery, the reluctant barrister for The Widow’s Grace, a shadowy vigilante justice organization. Entering society as a wealthy widow, Jemina contends with fortune-hunting suitors while struggling to unlock the secrets of her past. She’s also constantly at cross purposes with Daniel, the only man she’s drawn to. Daniel lost his betrothed in the wreck, and, as the mixed-race, recently elevated heir to an earldom, he treads a thin line in society. Where Jemina is reckless and bold, fastidious Daniel must be above reproach to protect himself and his recently adopted daughter. The amnesia trope is a challenging one to do convincingly, but Riley pulls it off with style. Choppy writing slightly undermines the otherwise riveting romance, but readers craving a multicultural Regency will be pleased. Agent: Sarah Younger, Nancy Yost Literary. (May)