The Belle of Belgrave Square

Berkley. (Belles of London, Bk. 2). Oct. 2022. 432p. ISBN 9780593337158. pap. $17. HISTORICAL ROMANCE
Julia Wychwood’s social anxiety makes any London event terrifying, so she rides her horse and reads novels to escape high society’s judgmental gaze. Captain Jasper Blunt is a Crimean war hero with an infamous reputation for his illegitimate children and brutish behavior. He inherits a rundown estate and requires an heiress’s funds to improve it. Jasper is a paradox to Julia, as his gentle behavior toward her is at odds with his beastly reputation, and she tries to discern his true nature. When Julia’s parents make some questionable and dangerous decisions regarding her future, she decides she is no longer safe in their care and proposes to Jasper, making a deal with him to abscond from London. In return, Julia promises to never unlock a certain room in Jasper’s home. What secret is he hiding? When Julia’s inheritance is waylaid by her parents, Jasper’s secrets are threatened, and Julia realizes her husband may not be who she thought.
VERDICT Matthews’s second installment in the “Belles of London” series (following The Siren of Sussex) combines deception, risk, and a resourceful heroine to create an intoxicating, suspenseful romance. Highly recommended.
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