Edinburg, 1761. Sophie McGann’s bookseller father runs afoul of the law as well as a vengeful nobleman and she finds herself in need of a quick getaway out of Scotland before she lands in the clapper as well. Coming to her rescue is the ever-so-handsome Hunter Robertson who hides her in his friend James Boswell’s trunk and she’s off to London to start a new life with her Aunt and Uncle (who also run a bookshop), but she finds her uncle dead and her aunt well on the road to insanity. Never one to let her spirits down for long, Sophie bucks up and puts the bookshop and printing business to rights. Located near the Covent Garden theater district, Sophie soon finds herself thoroughly entrenched in the theatrical community, including the famous actor/manager David Garrick who encourages her to pen her own plays. Eventually Sophie needs to get out of Dodge in a hurry and retreats to the theaters at Bath where she meets up with old friend Hunter (who is surprised at how nicely Sophie has grown up), as well as two lords with a great interest in the theater business, Roderick Darnly and Sir Peter Lindsay-Hoyt.
Since this is a romance, you know that just as our pair discover true love there’s going to be complications and separations, and Sophie finds herself at the mercy of our two debauched noblemen. Is Sir Peter really the dear knight in shining armor he seems, or does he desire Sophie for other reasons? What deep dark secrets does Darnley hold and what it his compelling interest in Sophie? The story from here on out takes plentiful twists and turns and ups and downs as Sophie and Hunter fight the baddies, have numerous Big Misunderstandings and separations whilst trying to keep their true love alive.
I enjoyed this book a great deal, especially the setting of Covent Garden, and Ware did a nice job of weaving her fictional characters in with the historical ones. It was interesting to see how the plays came together along with the struggle women had whilst writing plays and succeeding in a man’s world, as well as getting anything past the King’s censor. The first two-thirds of the book were pretty near unputdownable (I love a good romance), but in the end things got a wee bit too much with the melodrama, the separations waaaaay too long, and IMHO could do with editing out about 200 or so pages and wrap things up quicker. Still, a good quick read despite its length and I’d recommend it for romance fans, as well as those interested in all things theatrical. 3.5/5 stars.
Mr. FTC: I got a nice well-used old copy from the library with that pretty blue cover.