A carefree gentleman saves a little boy and falls for his mother, a young widow with a troubled past and well-guarded heart.
The characters in this historical romance are well drawn and engaging. Deborah Moore is an intriguing mix of vulnerability and vinegar. Her hard shell is so complete and convincing that there were times when I wanted to shake her, but she’s also so sympathetic that you can’t help but lover her. Evan Haverfield is an attractive hero…honest, honorable…but not so “romance book” perfect that he doesn’t get frustrated with Deborah and question his own intentions in pursuing her.
The secondary characters are just as well done, each a realistic mix of strengths and weaknesses. Julian is a lovable kid, but he gets cranky and demanding. Evan’s sisters are devoted to his happiness, but they make sure to thoroughly investigate Deborah. Especially Elizabeth, who turns out to be something of a fairy godmother.
The plot is full of unexpected twists, some of which turn the expected historical romance formula on its head. What stands out most for me is how the author manages to transport us back to Regency England without over romanticizing the era. The historical detail is perfectly balanced. We get the stately homes and sparkling house parties…and the realities of class prejudice, poverty, limited medical care, and imperfect hygiene.
If there is one criticism I have, it is that the section where Evan, overcome by melancholy, travels the countryside goes on a little longer than necessary. That said, the end of this travelling takes him to Deborah’s hometown, where he encounters her family. These scenes are some of the best in the book.
LEARNING TO WALTZ is an engrossing novel with tension that keeps the reader frantically turning the pages. By not trying to make either her characters or their time too “pretty,” author Kerryn Reid creates a truly beautiful and moving experience. I’m very much looking forward to her next novel.