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  • Hannah Fielding - Romance Novelist

From the blurb:

Geoffrey Wentworth, a war hero and rising political star, never wanted to be the Earl, but when his brother dies, he knows his duty–take up the responsibility for his family’s estates.  His mother’s definition of duty differs from his, however, and can be summed up in one word–heirs.  When Geoffrey rushes home to answer her urgent summons, he finds himself host to a house full of women, all vying to become the next Countess of Stratford.  But his love is Parliament, where he wields his influence and reputation to better the lives of ex-soldiers, until a tempting houseguest and a secret from his past threaten his freedom…and his heart.

Liliana Claremont, a brilliant chemist, doesn’t want to be any man’s wife, much less a countess.  If she had tuppence for every time she’d been told her place was filling the nursery, not experimenting in the laboratory, she could buy the Tower Bridge.  However, when she receives a coveted invitation to the Earl’s house party, she trades in her beakers for ball gowns and gladly takes on the guise of husband hunter–for the chance to uncover what the Earl had to do with the murder of her father.

Liliana believes the best way to get the answers she needs is to keep her enemy close, though romance is not part of her formula.  But it only takes one kiss to start a reaction she can’t control…

This book is the debut novel from Heather Snow and I am very impressed. This novel has all of the usual things we associate with, and love about, historical romance – society rules, nobility and titles, balls, dresses, romance and fluttering hearts. But what makes it stand out is the crossover element, adding a touch of mystery and danger that keeps the plot moving forward quickly and making the book a real page-turner.

Added to that is the fabulous heroine, Liliana, who is not the usual lady of the Regency period. She is strong and independent, and extremely intelligent; the kind of woman you root for as she outsmarts her way through the book, going against the wishes of her aunt and single-handedly taking on the world:

Her entire life she had been told to keep out of men’s pursuits. As if men alone had a brain worth educating. As if only men were capable of understanding complex scientific theory or making any worthy contribution to the world besides making babies.

Well, not today. Liliana took a bold step forward. “I’d wager, my lord,” she scoffed, “that this woman can not only make that weapon fire faster, but increase its accuracy measurably.”

Heather Snow’s characterisation in this book is wonderful. Liliana is a chemist and so the book is littered with scientific references which add authenticity:

She’d always had it–this compulsion to break things down to their elements. To discover the why and the how. It was what drove her to continue to pursue science, even though she’d been harshly rejected by the male establishment. And in a sense, it was what drove her now. She would discover the truth.

Could you see guilt in someone’s eyes? And if so, how did you quantify it?

She hadn’t been a bit surprised by the curiosity that had gripped her when she’d given in to his kisses – after all, she was nothing if not inquisitive. Any good scientist worth her sodium chloride was.

In this story, Liliana has gone undercover. She is trying to discover the identity of her father’s murderer. It is not her intention to fall in love with Geoffrey, the earl of Stratford, but there is something very alluring about him and she cannot help but be attracted to him. Geoffrey is also a very interesting character and not at all what you  (or Liliana) expect him to be. He is not bogged down in the rules of society; he listens to Liliana’s theories and advice and he treats her as an equal, not just an adornment he can parade while he gets on with his work in political circles. He too does not want to marry, but understands that he has duties as a earl to keep the family name going. The chemistry between Geoffrey and Liliana is explosive and passionate, but also wonderfully tender. It was such a pleasure to read about how their love for each other grew and how they solved the mystery surrounding Liliana’s father’s untimely death.

The book is written from both Liliana and Geoffrey’s point of view, allowing you as a reader to fully understand the intense feelings and conflict that each is feeling. Heather Snow’s description is wonderful. You can really believe the actions and reactions caused by analytical mind of Liliana in a society which is not yet quite ready to accept this academic dedication and ability in a woman. The descriptive detail of the unusual setting and situations that the characters find themselves in is superbly handled, with just enough to allow the pictures to blossom and captivate you. The addition of the mystery to the story allowed the characters to fall in love over weeks rather than days, without affecting the pace of the book. I loved the often humorous and sometimes sarcastic dialogue between the characters, and the twists and turns that formed this mixture of romance, mystery, suspense and intrigue.

I really enjoyed this novel and I am pleased to see that already another book in the series has been published. I look forward to reading it.

Sweet Enemy is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.

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