The characters in Ms Chatham’s Regency romance, His Dark Enchantress, entertained me. Despite her reluctance, Emmaline, the enchantress, must marry. Her late father was disinterested in his ancestral estate, so her grandfather, Sir Miles, retired Colonel in Chief of the 3rd Light Dragoons, arranged a trust, which settled it on Emmaline’s eldest son. In London, Emmaline, who is not a bread and butter miss, hopes her past will not be discovered. She meets her friend, Juliana’s brother, Lucius, Lord Clifton, Earl of Avondale. Unknown to her his heart was broken by his betrothed, so he vowed he would not marry until he was forty. From the moment they meet, Lucius is enchanted by Emmaline but tries to convince himself he is merely in the throes of lust, while he is curious about what she has to hide. Concerned for her, he warns her against Peregrine Styles, who he explains is “a gambler, a sore loser, a drunkard, a womaniser and not at all the sort of person you should associate with, even for as little as one dance.” Peregrine envies Lucius’ wealth and “aspires to relieve him of it at any opportunity.” Lucius’ suspects Peregrine is a cheat - an expert at sleight of hand - so he refuses to play cards with him. There are no lengths Peregrine’s aunt will not stoop to ensure Lucius marries her daughter, and Peregrine is willing to help her for a price. There are many twists and turns in this romantic mystery which surprised me and compelled me to read on. Ms Chatham is to be congratulated on this novel with well-written descriptions e.g. “The sun slid down the sky shot with streaks of azure and pink and spread its glow, like a lady’s skirt, across the countryside through which they travelled. Shadows thrown by trees and hedgerows deepened like bruises across their pathway.” If you enjoy romantic historical fiction which includes explicit sexual scenes you will enjoy this novel.
(reviewed 6 days after purchase)