I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Chasing the Heiress by Rachael Miles
Series: The Muses' Salon, #2
Published by Zebra Shout on May 31st 2016
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Romance
Purchase Links: Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound
ADD TO GOODREADS:
Lady Arabella Lucia Fairborne has no need of a husband. She has a fine inheritance for the taking, a perfectly capable mind, and a resolve as tough as nails. But what she doesn't have is the freedom to defy her cousin's will--and his will is to see her married immediately to the husband of his choosing. So is it any wonder that she dresses herself as a scullery maid and bolts into the night?
Colin Somerville's current mission for the home office is going poorly. Who would have expected otherwise for a rakish spy tasked with transporting a baby to the care of the royal palace. But when, injured and out of ideas, Colin stumbles upon a beautiful maid who knows her way around a sickroom, it seems salvation has arrived. Until he realizes that though Lucy may be able to help him survive his expedition, he may not escape this ordeal with his heart intact…
A fast-paced opening action sequence helps this sophomore effort by author Rachael Miles start off strong. Miles’ debut novel, Jilting the Duke, was released in January 2016 and can easily read as a standalone. Chasing the Heiress includes some of the same characters, as well as the continued villainous machinations of the mysterious Charters, who was introduced in the first Muses’ Salon novel.
The attraction between Colin Somerville and Lady Arabella Lucia “Lucy” Fairborne is immediate and powerful, even though he is wounded and she is disguised as a scullery maid. Perhaps the physical lust on Colin’s part was a wee bit too immediate. Colin had just been ambushed and suffering from a gunshot and the Royal Princess under his protection was shot and now in labor in the next room. Not exactly the best time for him to start thinking about making the moves in the servant tending to his bloody wounds.
The attraction is mutual and, despite momentary reservations, Colin and Lucy cannot help but engage in flirty banter (and a few kisses) as he recuperates. They spend time bonding over their shared experiences in the Peninsular Wars, where Colin served as an officer and Lucy was a nurse. Eventually, Colin returns to his mission to see his charge safely delivered to the protection of the British Crown. Lucy accompanies him, acting as his nurse, confidant, and eventual lover – with the secret of her identity and her plight still a secret from Colin. Circumstances and misunderstandings eventually intervene to part the two, who have now fallen irrevocably in love.
Colin and Lucy both started off as very strong, compelling characters but as the novel progressed, their character growth stalled. This could be a result of the pacing, which lagged at times toward the middle of the story. I believe some of Colin’s actions may have been motivated by his belief he did not deserve true happiness, and thus it was only right that he should lose Lucy. Colin’s emotional point of view was lacking for a portion of the story, and thus, the motivations for his actions can only be surmised. I needed to hear from Colin why he made the decisions he did, his anguish needed a voice. As for poor Lucy, she suffered enough and doesn’t need any criticism from me.
Miles’ shows great promise in Chasing the Heiress, the action sequences are sharp and realistic, and the demonstrates a great ear for dialogue. The plotting is intricate and skillfully interwoven with some very compelling suspense and villainy. I look forward to reading her next Muses’ Salon novel, Tempting the Earl, to be released this coming October.
Excerpt from CHASING THE HEIRESS
It had taken Colin two days to travel to Holywell, two days in which he had steeled himself to smile and be charming. But ultimately the princess had charmed him. Heiress to a mining magnate, Marietta had caught the eye of a visiting (and impoverished) member of the Habsburg royal family. Though she had been impeccably trained at the best finishing school in Paris, when Colin arrived, he found her teaching the housekeeper’s parrot to curse in five European languages. “Don’t call me Princess,” she whispered, casting a grim eye to the housekeeper, hovering at the edge of the terrace. “Or she will raise my rate.”
It had taken three more days to separate Marietta’s possessions into two groups: those which the carriage could carry and those which would have to be shipped from Liver-pool around the coast to London. Most difficult had been determining exactly which clothes she could (and could not) do without for her first week at court. Then, just when he had thought that they might set out, she had insisted that his coachman, Fletcher, accompany her trunks across the inlet to ensure they were well stowed for their London journey. All told, he had been gone from London for more than a week before he bundled Marietta, her paints, her embroidery, her knitting, her books, and a handful of magazines into the carriage and set off on their trip. But somehow he had not minded. Marietta was sweet, resilient, and companionable, anticipating the birth of her child with real joy.
He shifted in his seat, but his legs—outstretched on the backward-facing seat to give Marietta more room—felt like leaden weights, long past numb from a lack of circulation. He moved one foot down into the small space remaining between Marietta’s feet and the carriage door. The blood began to move agonizingly into one set of toes.
He unfolded his map and began to recalculate their trip. Holywell to London was two hundred and eight miles. Even a mail coach, traveling at seven miles an hour, could travel the distance in thirty-two hours, and his brother’s third-best carriage was able to clip along at ten. But the princess needed substantive food, frequent stops, a real bed at night, and opportunities to shop at any tempting village store they passed. Their first day, they travelled only to Wrexham. Twenty-six miles in six hours. Their second day would measure little more. He had already promised she could spend the night—and morning—in Shrewsbury. Using his fore-finger as a measure, he counted off the miles from Shrews-bury to London. The return would take a sennight, if he were lucky.
Marietta moaned and tried to shift her weight. Why— he berated himself for the fiftieth time—hadn’t he borrowed a better carriage? One with ample seats, thick comfortable bolsters, and better springs. If he were to play escort to a pregnant princess, why hadn’t the Home Office informed him? Had they intentionally withheld the information? Or had they not known?
He forced his attention back to the map. If Marietta gave birth on the road with only him and Fletcher for midwives, he would kill someone in the Home Office. He wasn’t yet sure who. Perhaps the lot of them, but he would begin by strangling Harrison Walgrave.
About Author Rachael Miles
Rachael Miles has always loved a good romance, especially one with a bit of suspense and preferably a ghost. She is also a professor of book history and nineteenth-century literature whose students frequently find themselves reading the novels of Ann Radcliffe and other gothic tales. Rachael lives in her home state of Texas with her indulgent husband, three rescued dogs, and an ancient cat.