In the Name of Duty by Sandi Layne


A new Regency romance by Sandi Layne!

The success of Bridgerton has refocused some attention on a delightful genre, the Regency romance. I, myself, hadn’t delved into one in quite a while and this book reminded me of why I love it.

Robert Lord Aberleigh married Georgiana after the death of his elder brother, to whom she had been betrothed. Robert didn’t really want the marriage, nor did he want the title he inherited after the same tragedy that claimed his brother’s life. What Robert wanted was a life in the 12th Light Dragoons. It was the only place he’d ever felt at home. The only happiness he ever had was in the saddle. When fate handed him the earldom, he did his duty – as briefly as possible. He married Georgiana, impregnated her, and promptly decamped, dropping the reins of his estate into his young wife’s inexperienced hands. He then proceeded to ignore her for pretty much the next half decade.

Georgiana proved equal to the task of Countess. Over the years, she became deft at managing the estate. She’s everything a lady should be: generous, kind, resourceful, and dedicated to the welfare of her people. She’s raised her son effectively as a single mother and served as head of the family for her husband’s sisters in the absence of any guidance from Robert.

The Battle of Waterloo changes everything. Robert loses an arm after his beloved horse is shot out from under him by a cannon ball. He’s forced to retire and return to the life he’s always tried to avoid. A life in a home he’s always thought of as his brother’s. This sort of bitter twist of fate can turn a person cruel, but Robert isn’t that kind of person. He tries to treat people well, even when he’s struggling with pain or embarrassment because of his disability. This made the novel much more enjoyable. (One prefers to read about nobles with a noble character!)

Robert’s return creates all sorts of awkwardness. His wife has pretended to be in contact with him all alongwhich protects his own reputation – so he certainly can’t object to the husbands she allowed his sisters to marry – one of them a doctor. The daughter of an earl wed to a man with a profession!  And worse, she had been working as the physician’s assistant before they married!  You had your war to fight, she had hers,” Georgiana tells him. “And with your parents and brother gone, and my father passing, we did the best we could.” She doesn’t add “Without your help,” but it’s painfully obvious.

Here I must pause to say I really wanted to see more about the other sister, Rachel who is deaf. It was an era in which disability, especially in women, could put great limitations on the life a person was able to enjoy, but Rachel has managed beautifully. She’s married to a member of Parliament, so she’d have so many social challenges! She’d certainly worth a novel of her own.

Georgiana is resentful that Robert has dumped all the responsibility on her and hasn’t even bothered to assist her by letter. He’s meeting his child for the first time and wants the boy to learn how to ride, which Georgiana thinks is far too dangerous. But she tries to be gracious as he integrates himself into the life of the estate.

This story is about two people who have to re-learn one another and navigate around scars that have been created since those long-ago days. How can Robert find his way forward in a life he never wanted? How can he win Georgiana’s heart when she’s justifiably angry at him? How can he accept his disability and its challenges and find ways to adapt to do the things that bring him joy?

The tale unwinds against the backdrop of a country estate. When I first read it, I was disappointed we didn’t see the characters in the city, but upon further reflection, I think it was the perfect setting for a story like this. Many Regency novels focus on the glitter of court and its complex manners, but this story flourished in slower-paced country life.

It’s a delightful read and I’m sure fans of Regency romance will love it as much as I did.

In the Name of Duty is available for pre-order on Amazon!

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