This book is ostensibly the story of Lady Sophie Kyle and her fiance Lord Randal Ashby. Sophie and Randal became engaged just after the drama which came at the end of Lord Wraybourne's Betrothed, and as I found Sophie and Randal more interesting than Jane and David, I wanted to read this book.
The first half of the book is far more about Beth Hawley, Jane's old governess, however. Beth is on her way to Steyne for the festivities leading to Sophie and Randal's wedding, when she meets up with Sir Marius Fletcher, another friend of David Wraybourne. He's a very big man, but unfailingly courteous, though with a good sense of humour. We sniff a secondary romance, and we'd be right.
On to Sophie and Randal, though, and for most of the book we only really see them through other characters' eyes. Something's wrong with what should be a blissful romance. Randal is avoiding Sophie, while she tries to flirt with him. She even tries to flirt with his friend Piers Verderan in order to make Randal jealous, but that only makes both men angry. Why is Randal so aloof? Why is Sophie so insecure? Why is Sophie wondering whether Randal was forced into proposing after he compromised her? Even though everyone around can see how much Randal loves Sophie, his behaviour is making her unhappy.
Into the mix here we then have anonymous threatening letters, and an attempt on the life of Randal's brother, where Randal himself seems to have been the intended victim.
The book was readable, but problematic. It was unclear whether it was meant to be about Sophie and Randal or Beth and Marius, and as such neither couple got adequate attention. The dramatic plot, although it tied into the events in Lord Wraybourne's Betrothed, was a distraction; it would have been much more interesting to see if Sophie and Randal could have sorted out their problems without this outside intervention. And, unusually for Beverley's work (or has she just got better?), the book was riddled with grammatical errors and typos, such as words missing or printed twice.
All in all, her longer novels are much better than these early regencies - although Piers Verderan's story, Emily and the Dark Angel, is really excellent. It's almost worth buying The Stolen Bride to find out more about his background and reputation, as we do here.