The Viscount Without Virtue

Maximilian has spent his life trying to meet his father’s expectations. As a last ditch effort, he agrees to go undercover and expose the dangerous practices the Preston family of Northfield are encouraging. Everything from hiring malcontents and freed slaves to promoting social justice practices that would ruin the English empire. Once there, however, Max is hard pressed to uncover the corruption and discontent that must be buried. His purpose is made even more difficult when he discovers the dowdy woman that helps with the carpentry work is actually the beautiful eldest Preston daughter, Ellen, and she is just as enamored with him! Once she discovers his true purpose, however, will she continue their liaison or will they destroy one another with the truth that must be told?
In a world filled with light, historical romance, this story not only intrigues and titillates but engages and educates! The writing is lovely and thought-provoking as the characters grapple with the societal problems of the era. In fact, this would be an enthusiastic five star read, if the romance aspect would have stayed true to that time, as well. Instead, however, it reads as a steamy contemporary couched in regency clothing. Ellen’s behavior is especially suspect. Not only in her actions but her choice of words and phrases, which are more 21st century good time girl than slightly knowledgeable 19th century lady. It flings any cognizant reader out of the narrative repeatedly and flows over into her actions in other areas, as well.  Still, it’s a dynamic story - and if one can overlook the perplexing  and prevalent anachronisms, an enlightening and enjoyable read!
Ruth Lynn Ritter