Regency, love, and horses

His Captive Lady - Anne Gracie

In this regency romance, Harry is a bastard son of an earl. He served in the Wellington army for eight years, but now the war is finally over. Having inherited some money from his late great-aunt, Harry buys the estate of Firmin Court, where he plans to breed racing horses. He also asks his aunt to find him a practical, middle-class bride. He doesn’t want love. He wants stability.

Lady Helen, Nell to her friends, grew up at Firmin Court, but her late father lost it and everything else in a game of cards before he killed himself. Now, Nell is destitute and must leave the only home she ever knew.

The two meet briefly, by accident, but Harry can’t push Nell out of his mind. Every potential bride his aunt parades before him lacks in comparison to Nell. When he sees Nell again, their encounter is unexpected and explosive, and he wouldn’t rest until she accepts his marriage proposal. Of course, he doesn’t love her, he is an immensely practical man, but he can’t explain even to himself why he pursues her so relentlessly, even after she rejected his suit. Twice.

Nell likes the handsome former soldier, but she has a secret that makes her ineligible for marriage. She can’t marry anyone, least of all Harry. She likes him too much.

The two play a game of cat and mouse, with many droll moments and quirky situations, and Nell’s secret adds a poignant emotional brew to the already complex love story. And the characters are so lovely, both of them, so potent and alive and contradictory.

A charming tale from start to finish.