This is probably my all-time favorite review of a book I loved.
What tickled me: What didn’t? But especially warm hands and glasses.
What ticked me off: Not a blessed thing I can remember.
Who might like this: I can’t imagine who wouldn’t like this.
Nothing exhausts me faster than a Regency spy plot but after so many glowing reviews of this book, I decided to just hold my nose and hope for the best. And I’m so glad I did, because there’s life in that threadbare trope yet. I won’t go into those plot details but the story hold up well enough to frame a truly wonderful romance.
Revealed also happens to be a sex reversal of one of my favorite tropes — the alpha hero who falls in love against his will, especially with a rather ordinary heroine. As the undisputed queen of London society, widowed Phillipa Benning is carrying out a perfectly reasonable campaign to ensnare the Marquis of Broughton — rich, titled, gorgeous and wanted by her arch rival Lady Jane Cummings, he’s obviously the perfect man for her. But she keeps being distracted by Marcus Worth, an overly tall, lanky, glasses-wearing ordinary Mister, whose large, warm hands seem to be a perfect fit with hers: “It was as if her hand, without consulting her own thoughts, was especially attuned to being held in the hand of Mr. Marcus Worth. And as such, whenever he released her hand, it felt the lack of his.”
Phillipa is definitely the alpha here: powerful, the leader of her sphere and (although naturally she keeps these facts hidden) extremely intelligent and competent. Like most romance alphas, she has a painful secret, although she’s far too practical to spend a lot of time brooding on it. And like most alphas, she is essentially very lonely — perhaps even more than most, since societal expectations demand that she keep most of her true nature hidden.
As Phillipa and Marcus get to know each other, a recurring expression, “It’s just me,” because the theme of their relationship. Their unspoken, unacknowledged message is they can be easy together, be themselves. Phillipa feels free to rearrange his hopeless hair: “Marcus, wary of her intention, jerked his head back, slightly out of her reach. ‘Oh for heaven’s sake,’ she said exasperatedly. ‘It’s just me.'” Marcus dares to tease her, gently deflating her pretensions. And they can actually talk to each other:
“… every syllable of conversation was so loaded with double and triple meaning that Phillipa herself didn’t know what was being said half the time. Such discourse was the Ton’s stock and trade. So she had to admit: Speaking frankly to Marcus Worth was so refreshing, it smacked closely of being entertaining.”
When they finally make love, the phrase becomes especially meaningful and tender: “She knew everything would be all right. It was just him. And just her. There was no judge or jury here… For once, she could be herself… Whatever she happened to be, he would match her.”
Revealed is probably chock full of anachronistic language and honestly, I didn’t care a whit. It’s so beautifully structured, so original, so funny and delightful. I loved it. A freakin- plus.
(A note of warning for ebook readers: the prologue of the story does not have a chapter link and could be easily missed.)
I think the review ebook was from the library, because I then went and bought a paperback copy.