Monday, November 18, 2013

Her Grace in Disgrace by Claudia Harbaugh

Title:  Her Grace in Disgrace
Author:  Claudia Harbaugh
Series:  The Widows of Woburn Place #1
Published:  June 22nd 2013 by Createspace
Page Count:  248
Genre:  Historical Romance
Shelf:  Review Copy
Rating:  ★★★★

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Reginald Aiken, Duke of Warwick is dead and his young widow is not grieving...until the will is read. Isobel Kennilworth Aiken, Duchess of Warwick spent 6 years of her young life in a loveless marriage. Now, at the age of 24, Isobel is a widow. As Isobel awaits the reading of her late husband's last will and testament, she feels no grief, but in fact is quite hopeful. She is eager to start her life anew. But, as the droning of the solicitor's voice washes over her detailing the bequests to various servants and family members, a shock awaits her. The "other woman" was not his mistress, but his lawfully wedded wife and together they had a son. Six year old Reggie was now the Duke of Warwick, displacing Reginald's brother Charles. There is a collective gasp as the revelation is made that instantly displaces Isobel and Charles and dashes their hopes for the future. Isobel must indeed start anew, but not as a titled, influential and wealthy widow, but as plain Miss Kennilworth, tainted by scandal. Can she get past the disgrace and humiliation she has endured and fight her way back into society? Will she find love again with her childhood sweetheart, Andrew Stafford, former vicar, now Lord Saybrooke? Or perhaps she will rekindle the flame with Jeremy Ingles, Lord Westcott, who had caught her fancy at her come out six years earlier, but had not been ready to be leg shackled. But before Isobel can find true love, she must come to grips with her past mistakes and the people she has hurt along the way. She must discover who she is without the title of duchess to her name.

My Review:

My first and last thoughts on this novel? ‘Could you just imagine?’ Harbaugh takes a situation that would be almost unimaginable today and sets it back a few hundred years to create a scandal to outweigh all scandals. All the while, she keeps her story firmly and correctly planted in the time period in question. Not only are Harbaugh’s descriptions vivid and picturesque, but they also transport you back in time. Her entire writing style does this. By the end of the story I felt like I’d travelled through time and back.

Harbaugh’s characters develop a will-they-won’t-they type of romance with a big twist. Not only does it draw many of these characters together as more than blood kin, but it also defines who some of these characters are. Since the characters are so firmly planted in their time period, the way that they approach marriage is key to their personalities and upbringing. Harbaugh doesn’t stop there with her character development, however. Each character is individually developed to suit their role in the story and to further the storyline. As a reader you won’t love everyone. Some you may well despise (I know I did). This all adds to the realism and romanticism of this phenomenal tale.

Overall, this was a brilliant escape from modern day reality and I couldn’t put it down. It was a heart-warming tale that left me smiling and wanting more. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone.

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