When a book causes me to smile countless times throughout and even chuckle at the engaging banter between characters, I know I have stumbled upon a satisfying story! Emma Wildes brings a fresh, delightful debut to One Whisper Away, the first installment of her new Ladies In Waiting series.
Jonathan Borne, the Earl of Augustine, has returned to England (quite to his dismay) to settle several family matters as the result of his father’s death. An unconventional man of mixed heritage and a resident of America, Jonathan has no use for the ultra formal “code of conduct” that the British possess. Arriving in London at his late father’s estate with his illegitimate five year old daughter in hand, Jonathan hopes to form a somewhat cordial relationship with his half-sisters in order to help secure husbands and stability for all three before he returns to America. Lady Cecily Francis has her own dilemma to contend with. An accidental encounter of champagne spilled across her bosom has Jonathan unconventionally wiping it off. When he whispers in her ear he would have preferred to lick it off, her reputation is now in question give such “ghastly” public behavior. Her current suitor, Lord Daury, is the very man her beloved sister, Eleanor, has been infatuated with for over a season. Cecily decides in order to rid herself of Lord Daury’s advances, she proposes an engagement to Jonathan with the intent to break it before he returns to America. What neither expects is their mutual attraction and enjoyment in each other’s company.
The main quality I enjoy of Ms. Wilde’s writing style is she brings a sincere realness to all of her characters which is, at times, difficult to accomplish in a historical setting. While not over flamboyant, they are clever, tenacious and depict a true spirit that draws the reader into the story. I adored Cecily’s honesty. When she looked at Jonathan, she never once recognized him as a “savage” or “half breed” as society viewed his mixed blood status. She saw a strong, untamed, exotic, and virile man. Jonathan, while intrigued by Cecily’s beauty, was more impressed with her open mind and giving spirit. Whenever Cecily and Jonathan were together, their flirty and uninhibited chemistry poured off the pages. A particular favorite moment was when they scandalously went skinny dipping at the river in midday. As they circled each other stripping pieces of clothing off, their playful and sensual exchange had a resemblance to the brazen, iconic couple of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler whom both never let scandal faze them. And while it was considered a highly scandalous moment between a couple of that era, their reckless, teasing demeanor had me grinning and not wanting the moment to end. The secondary characters played strong and engaging roles to the storyline as well and provided a nice set up to future novels. One Whisper away delivered a vast array of well-developed characters and a strong start to what I believe will be Ms. Wilde’s best series yet.
“They didn’t know each other well enough for her to be sure, but she thought he seemed like the type of man to give his wife a great deal of freedom. Would he be possessive, she wondered as they gazed at each other in an ever-lengthening silence. Maybe-not because he considered her a possession but because he wouldn’t want to share her attention. Life would never be tame; the edge of wildness about him was exciting, fascinating, and it might last a lifetime…”