Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an ARC.
WITH LOVE IN SIGHT is Christina Britton’s debut historical romance novel. It is the first book in the Twice Shy series, and RWA's 2017 Golden Heart Winner.
Imogen Duncan is 26 years old, and her London Season is long past. With no hope (or desire) of getting married, Imogen is prepared to live with her parents for the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, her mother is overbearing and almost always disappointed in her oldest daughter. The woman won’t even let Imogen wear her spectacles in public because she is afraid that it will bring the family to ruin.
Caleb Masters, the Marquess of Willbridge, has spent the past ten years blaming himself for his younger brother’s death. This guilt has driven a wedge between him and his remaining family members. It has also led him to a life of debauchery with widowed women whom he believes will numb his pain for at least a short time.
Imogen and Caleb run into each other at a London ball. Imogen is there because her younger sister is having her Season, and she is there to support Mariah. Their other sister is locked in a loveless marriage that has broken her spirit. Imogen has vowed to make sure that Mariah does not end up in the same situation. Imogen and Caleb quickly strike up an unconventional friendship. Imogen sees Caleb as a guide to adventure – something she desperately wishes to have before settling into to the life of a spinster. Imogen brings peace into Caleb’s life – a feeling that he has longed for ever since his brother died. Friendship turns to passion, but Imogen repeatedly refuses Caleb’s offer of marriage because she refuses to marry a man who does not love her.
WITH LOVE IN SIGHT is a delightful Regency Romance. Imogen is the shy, awkward ugly duckling at the beginning of the novel. By the end, she has blossomed as she finds her backbone and realizes that she is a lot braver than she ever realized. Caleb is the brooding hero living a superficial, self-indulgent life of misery. Imogen’s friendship transforms his life, though he is a little too dense to realize that he is in love with her and she with him until it is almost too late. The secondary characters added to the novel – especially Caleb’s sister Emily. I appreciated Britton took the main characters away from the balls and rigid formality of the London Season, and instead has the second part of the novel taking place in a less formal, more intimate setting. Taking the Imogen and Caleb to his country’s manor house – the scene of his brother’s untimely, unfortunate death – allows for less conventionalism. It also brings Caleb’s family firmly into the story as they play a major role in Caleb’s unhappiness and eventual salvation.