THE NIGHTHAWK THE SWAN
Hugh Redgrave, marquess of Ormond, was warned. Prinny had dubbed Lady Mary Campbell “the Swan,” but no ordinary man could clip her wings. She was a bluestocking hellion, an ill-advised match by every account. Luckily, he sought no bride. His work lay on the continent, where he’d become legend by stealing war secrets from Boney. And yet, his memories of Lady Mary riding her stallion were a thorn in his mind. He was the son of a duke and in the service of the Prince Regent and he would not be whole until he had won her hand.
It was unheard of for a Regency debutante to postpone her first season, yet Lady Mary had done just that. Far more interested in politics than a husband, she had no time for foolishness or frippery. Already she had assisted her statesman uncle in Paris, and she swore to return to the court of Louis XVIII no matter the danger. Like her black stallion, Midnight, she would always run free. Only the truest heart would race beside her.
Note: I was given a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Oh my, I have to admit right now that when this book came into our inbox here at Once Upon A Book I was absolutely captivated with the idea of a fantastic Napoleonic/Regency espionage story and snatched it up right away. Oh, the possibilities! Regency period novels are one of my favorite historical genres, next to medieval. What can I say, this titillating tale about a bold, rebellious, clever girl. And the smoldering, tall, dark and handsome man that would be her counter part had me ready to get reading! I honestly have to say that I was enthralled by this novel by the middle of the first chapter, and didn’t look up until at least five am—where I now pause to type out this first impression. Unfortunately, I have completed the story but how I wish there was much more! I loved everything about “Racing The Wind“, and I’m not ashamed to admit I believe I have been left with a little crush on Mary & Hugh.
Meet Mary, the impetuous daughter of her Father, the late Earl of Campbell, possesses a disinclination and lack of interest in the normal fripperies and refinements most of the girls in her age become engrossed in. She finds excitement in brashly sharing her views and following politics with a keen mind and intellect. Mary never wanted to be tethered by a man that would crush her spirit. But unlike so many other books, I actually believed it. And Hugh, the very image of tall-dark-and- handsome, with a dangerous streak and possessor of the alter ego of a French thief known as Nighthawk. He certainly appealed with his secret and oh so daring thieving-for-the-crown alter ego. I must commend Walker on her creation!
I so enjoyed Ms.Walker’s characters! What wonderfully colorful personalities, with constructively informative pasts they had! Believe it or not, it seems there is a decided lack of character fleshing-out in many Romance novels nowadays. I’ve read many of these novels and hundreds of times simply found myself tossed into a story with characters that become paper cut-outs of themselves and boring due to a lack of sense for who they are, and what their motivations might be. Walker has managed to give the characters their due, and with that I found myself actually caring what happened to them as the action began to unfold. It was a great pleasure for this reader to be swept into the lives of this adventurous pair. The sensual interludes between Hugh and Mary were sizzling, and very “romance”-like, as they don’t actually seal the deal until much later in the book. I loved the teasing, possessive kissing and the brief bread crumbs that were dropped before us throughout the story. Walker managed to bank the romance over time, in a way that seems most rare in recent authors. But perhaps that’s because I was reared on earlier generations of romance novelists that were expert at such subtlety and I truly enjoyed seeing this skill emerge here. It made me long for more novels that slowly burn and then beg for release, it’s what romance is meant to do.
There’s an enjoyable amount of historical detail and attention that the author has applied here. Whether it be to historical politics about the Bourbon Restoration and the tension preluding its subsequent revolutions, and continued right down to the type of china that was being used. Appreciated by this reader as well was the “contemporary” nods to Jane Austen (I couldn’t help but note most of the English ladies names were also names from Austen novels, but they were popular names of the period, and it could simply be coincidence. But if not, this reader cheers for a Mary, finally getting her due!). For a history buff like me, I found that I loved every moment and description that she managed to add without bogging the momentum of the book down. There’s nothing that excites me more than to be able to acquire real history mixed in with a fun and exciting plot with romance tossed in for good measure!
I truly did enjoy this book. However, as much as I hate to be a downer. In spite the many accurate historical facts, I feel I have to make a few notes about some things I wondered about as I read. First off, the character Mary does seem written to fit an audience of our time period, which is probably why I liked her so much. She’s strong, independent and given a great deal many luxuries that simply were not normally tolerated of women of that time period. There were certainly some cases of gross negligence when it came to her being chaperoned; at a particular house party, and a shameful glancing over and lack of concern of what would have probably been seen as quite the scandal. But since we aren’t in Regency England, and I am a woman of the now, these minor things did not take anything away from the book for me. But other readers may feel differently, so it was worth a small mention.
Another thing that made me take pause was !(SPOILER)!; why wasn’t there more thievery involved? Hugh was the Nighthawk, and the story opens with a nifty scene indeed. I was hoping that there’d be more of that, sneaky, stealthy, roguish stuff. At least another safe robbery or spies listening in the dark. But he wasn’t a spy, he was a thief. Over all I just found myself wondering why even have the thievery skill there at all! At first it was something that greatly attracted me to the character, so I was a little sad as I kept reading that this wasn’t actually an on-going and necessary skill. The rogue lover in me died a little that day.
And now to the final complaint on my list which may have irked me was this; Why wasn’t this book called “The Nighthawk & The Swan”? For the life of me I cannot seem to keep the title, “Racing with the Wind” in my head, it fades so far back into my memory that I have to look it up each time, that is to spite how much I enjoyed it. This has to just be me and I’ll probably forever personally refer to it as, “The Nighthawk & The Swan book, by that Author I really appreciated. I should see if she’s written anything new lately!” Now if only I could turn back time, fix the recession and find one of her books at a Borders. Nothing sounds more wonderful than drinking a sumptuous coffee treat and being engrossed in the wonderful delight that was this book. (Oh, how I miss you Borders!)
Without further ado, I give this book a happy, sensual, smoldering 5 stars! I know a whole 5! What can I say I really loved this story. I do believe that I will definitely be keeping an eye out for Regan Walker’s next books, I cannot wait to see what happens next in the Agents of The Crown series. And I sincerely hope that Elizabeth’s and Lambeth’s tale is told next, yes I do.
A little about the Author:
As a child, Regan loved to write stories, particularly about adventure-loving girls. But by the time she got to college, more serious pursuits were encouraged. One of her professors thought her suited to the profession of law. Regan says, “I became a lawyer because I thought it would be better to be a hammer than a nail.” Years of serving clients in private practice and several stints in high levels of government gave her a love of international travel and a feel for the demands of the “Crown” on its subjects. Hence, her first romance novels involve a demanding Prince Regent who thinks of his subjects as his private talent pool. Regan says her stories will always involve adventure as well as love.
Regan lives in San Diego with her Golden Retriever, Link, who she says inspires her every day to relax and smell the roses.
I hope you enjoy “Racing With The Wind“, as much as I did. Until next time readers!