This new racy regency romance is everything and everyone should read it immediately!
I have truly never read anything quite like it. It is a story about a woman trying to find herself, and a man who loves her as she is. But it is more than that—it is also an exploration into identity, femininity, love, change, forgiveness; it is the story of two souls finding love, and learning to accept each other unconditionally.
The Regency Era was not a great time for the lgbtq+ community, and though this is a fiction story, it’s not hard to imagine people actually going through this. Which is incredibly sad, but also empowering, because Viola is truly a role model! Her story is powerful, and important, and valid.
“I am trapped between who I am and who I was, always terrified that one will swallow the other.”
Lady Viola struggles with self-acceptance, confidence, and identity. Her fears and struggles move the story forward and give readers a glimpse into the difficulties transgender people face daily. From navigating the alien territory of finding clothing to fit your body, to being uncomfortable with small daily tasks (needlepoint or tea pouring or letter writing) that women seem to know as second nature, Viola feels behind in her womanhood, as if she missed out on precious and formative moments of girlhood. She also wants to overcome the shame and fear she carries, and pushes to make her own space in the world, for the freedom to live authentically, no matter the costs, which is what makes her such a strong character.
“But it was hard to put into words. It took a long time.”
Duke Justin goes through an inner journey of learning to accept Viola as herself, and eventually understands that she always was Viola, and proves to be an ally as well as a friend. He struggles with addiction, ptsd, and the ghosts of his past, but Viola is able to help his overcome his struggles, just as he helps her. They are very cute together, and they have great chemistry!
“We can make our own world, Viola, with our own rules.”
Light is a huge theme of the book, fading sunsets and shadows show dark, sundials for the passing of time, and echoes to reference the past. Chrysanthemums are also a hugely important theme in the book. Viola returns to this flower again and again, as it means something to her. In the Victorian Language of Flowers, the chrysanthemum represents friendship, happiness, and well-being: everything she wishes for, what her soul seeks.
“Your life is yours, you did what you needed to live it.”
Also. I demand fan art for page 283, and all of chapter 34 & 35!!! The descriptions of Viola’s flowing gowns are to-die-for and I want to see every single bit of her wardrobe! If you are a fan of Jane Austen, Bridgerton, The Courtship, and period drama, THIS is the book for you!!!