Review copy was received from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
A Wanton for All Seasons by Christi Caldwell
Narrator: Justine Eyre, Tim Campbell
Series: Wantons of Waverton #3
Published by Brilliance Audio on November 2, 2021
Genres: Historical Romance
Length: 9 hours, 54 minutes
Annalee Spencer and Wayland Smith were uninhibited young lovers until the Peterloo Massacre set them on two different paths. Raised to the title of Baron of Darlington in recognition of his courage, Wayland is now a model of propriety and heroism. As for Annalee, the trauma of that tragic day in Manchester is ever present. To dull the pain, she lives only for pleasure. And she derives immense pleasure from co-leading the Mismatch Society, a league of scandalously independent women. Perhaps, too scandalous...because of Annalee. To save the society, she must adopt a veneer of respectability. For that, she needs the man who’s won the admiration of the ton.
Wayland may be conflicted, but he agrees to Annalee’s proposal, if only to atone for having brought his former beloved to Peterloo on that fateful day. Reunited under the pretense of a courtship, Wayland and Annalee find the feelings between them are becoming real. With their own futures at stake, it’s finally time to confront the past, to trust in each other again, and against the odds, to reclaim the love they once had.
A Wanton for all Seasons is the third book of the Wantons of Waverton series and has a couple ties to the Lost Lords of London series to boot. So I must confess with that title I thought this might be more of a Christmas book. Just to be clear it is not, and is an unusual tale in the historical genre, as the main female character for once has has much more of a promiscuous past than the male lead. Oh the scandal.
Annalee and Wayland were secret lovers back when he was just the blacksmith’s son fighting for a voice and she a budding debutant. After the events of Peterloo changed them forever, they have been parted for a decade. Annalee is suffering from a form of PTSD and trying to drown out her memories with drink, gambling and men while Wayland tried to control every other aspect of his life. They are thrust back together in this story as Annalee tries to sort out a way to save her Mismatch Society and Wayland tries to decide between the woman he has always loved or the security of a partnership with the family that lifted him into the gentry.
Annalee is broken. I do have a thing for broken characters. She acts out, she plays the seductress, she has flashbacks at times and she seems to get into trouble now matter how well she is trying to behave. Wayland on the other hand is prim, proper and controlled. So much so he is a shadow of the boy Annalee was in love with long ago. He has one goal and that is to become even more respectable so his sister can make a good match. While his intensions are good, they are directed in a way that will probably make him miserable for the rest of his life. But there is something about the woman he used to love that keeps tugging at him and is threatening to upend his life completely. She is a force of nature like that.
I liked all the characters in this book, but I will say that both Annalee’s and Wayland’s sister sort of stole the show when they were on page. Wayland is uptight and buttoned down. However, you could see glimpses of the boy that Annalee once loved, in those moments he was a true hero. I did like that Annalee was so irreverent of the social norms of the day. She was a free woman and did what she liked, but the reader also got to see what those actions cost her sometimes.
This is an unusual set up for a historic romance and I did like the change up. It was also very true to the time with how Annalee was treated not only by her peers but also by her family. I liked how the story resolved and each of the main characters realized their feelings only laid dormant for a time ready to spring forth again with just a little encouragement. Overall a good second chance story that steps on all the social norms.
Justine Eyre has a very distinctive narration style that lends itself really well to romances. She gets that whole breathless anticipation thing so right every time. I love hearing her narrations and have enjoyed her voice through various series. I was able to listen to this at my usual 1.5x speed.
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