When Bella Holsworthy returns to England after fifteen years roaming the globe with her husband, an elderly diplomat, she quickly finds herself in a locale more perilous than any in her travels-the Court of King George IV. As the newly elevated Earl and Countess settle into an unfamiliar life in London, this shy, not-so-young lady faces wicked agendas, society's censure, and the realities of a woman soon to be alone in England.
Unaccustomed to the ways of the beau monde, she is disarmed and deceived by a dissolute duke and a noble French émigré with a silver tongue. Hindered by the meddling of her dying husband, not to mention the King himself, Bella must decide whether to choose one of her fascinating new suitors or the quiet country life she has searched the world to find.
Although this is Book #1 in the series Sailing Home, I highly recommend reading the prequel Shipmate. One will get a little backstory and more insight to the relationship between Bella and Myron. It is mentioned that theirs was not a love match. A marriage of convenience that proved to be just the thing a wallflower like Bella needed. Royal Regard takes place after their return from their many adventures abroad (After the events of Shipmate). Back to London, where Society tongues wag and gossip is second nature. Labeled a nouveau riche couple and their lifestyle barely making them acceptable make things hard for Bella, who despises all activities within the Ton.
Bella and Myron are admired by the Prince or Prinny and the fact that royalty holds them in regard, do they actually have a some standing in Society. But the barely veiled dislike for a woman who speaks her own mind, who is sporting a tan from her adventures, and who is not pretty by any standards, is fresh meat to all who acquaint themselves to her. All know the vast age difference between Bella and Myron, and his failing health make her a new target for fortune hunters. Enter two Dukes who actually duke it out with each other over Bella. A new experience for her, to be sure.
Bella is not your typical heroine. She is shy, yet witty, a wallflower through and though. But she is not pretty and it pained me to read how often she was called ugly. Her sharp tongue had me grinning and I loved the dialogue between Bella and her cousin Charlotte (whose story you can read in Mistletoe, Marriage, and Mayhem). It was a refreshing take on a Regency set story, that focuses more on the more realistic aspects of marriage, love, and people’s agendas. Bella’s temper, however, sometimes proved to be her downfall. Those scenes that showcased her temper actually had me wincing because I knew she would regret those actions and words right after her outburst. To set it apart from other Regency romances, this one actually made me think that she ruined her chance at Happily Ever After forever. It really kept me on my toes.
Speaking of love of her life, Nick was a very enjoyable hero to read about. A man that can handle Bella’s temper has my respect for sure. He is described as a handsome rake who had his fair share of dalliances and love affairs. So of course Bella doesn’t trust him in the beginning. But to trust the French Duke that constantly showers her with compliments and sexual innuendos, blush at his attentions, really made me want to roll my eyes at her lack of common sense.
The author’s writing is detailed and flows easily. I really lost myself in the storytelling. I love stories that can grab your attention and this one didn’t want to let go!