I hope you enjoy my review and an exclusive excerpt from Neanderthal Seeks Duchess by Laney Hatcher, the first book in the new London Ladies Embroidery series! This is a historical romance reinterpretation of Penny Reid’s contemporary Knitting in the City series.
A historical adaptation of Penny Reid’s beloved charming and quirky characters from the Knitting in the City series? SIGN ME UP! I’ll admit, I was more than a little intrigued by the concept, and by and large, it worked fabulously well for me.
In keeping with the spirit of the contemporary original, Lainey takes great care to transport us back in time to 19th century London.
Following a similar outline for the original story, Neanderthal Seeks Duchess has the added bonus of Laney’s historical flair, all told in a modern voice.
Lady Jane Morrison is fresh from a broken courtship, and without support from her family, is trying to maintain her independence and freedom by taking on accounting clients. She may be residing with her best friend temporarily, but she doesn’t want to be a burden.
Enter Lord Dashing, who saves the day after a ballroom wardrobe malfunction. He’s mysterious and brooding, and Janie can’t get him out of her head. What she doesn’t know is that he’s hiding a secret that may immediately take the shine off of her crush.
When a position within the Lord’s company is presented, Janie jumps at the opportunity, not only for more time with him, but also to use the income to build the life of her choosing.
His interest in Janie may be anything but professional, but after her last suitor, Janie is more than a little gun shy—and the Lord has a dangerous past that may endanger Janie.
From their personalities to their occupations, each of the Knitting in the City ladies is here, translated into the period as ladies of the ton.
I loved that their weekly knitting therapy sessions are interpreted as embroidery circle chats, with each of the ladies bringing their unfiltered personalities and support in a time when that was frowned upon.
Janie’s relationship with Quinton (Lord Dashing) is both intriguing and heartwarming. Both are struggling with past familial issues as well as unrealistic expectations from society—and neither one of them plans to conform to either.
Watching them forge their own path while navigating the constraints of the time period and also their personal natures will leave you with a smile on your face more than once throughout the story.
Fans of Penny Reid’s original will love how Neanderthal Seeks Human translates into historical romance, while new readers of Laney Hatcher will love her writing and characterization.
Personally, I can’t wait for another retold story from the series and the sneak peek at the back of the book is a torturous tease knowing that the release date isn’t until the fall!
The footman approached confidently with his tray of refreshment. “My ladies, would you care for some lemonade?” With a flourish, he presented our drinks and offered a brilliant smile. Blond hair and amused brown eyes met our undeniably surprised expressions. Servants were typically less flamboyant and obvious in their attentions. I noticed Lady Foxworth’s charming footman was dressed to reflect the extravagance of the ball as well. He seemed to be playing a role to accompany the theme of the evening and indulging us at the same time.
“Why, thank you. We would be delighted to accept,” Eliza finally managed while offering a shy smile. I thanked him in turn and off he went to further support his mistress in her outrageous affair. I was both grateful for the refreshment on this mild evening but also the respite from the seriousness of my interrupted conversation with Eliza. However, she seemed determined to pick up where we left off. But before she could open her mouth to question my intentions further, I looked over her shoulder beyond the closest palm frond and spotted something, nay, someone that caused me to suck in a large breath. Unfortunately, my mouth was full of lemonade at the time and I began choking quite fitfully.
Alarmed, Eliza took my glass and patted me gamely on the back. “Are you all right? You looked like something startled you.” She started to turn to examine the gardens for the source of my alarm, but I quickly grabbed her arm and recovered my wits.
Eyes watering, I cleared my throat and whispered furiously, “Do not turn. He is behind you.”
As one does, she completely ignored me and made to turn again while questioning, “Who is behind me?”
I made to stop her again and finally met her confused stare. “Him. The mysterious gentleman. Lord Dashing,” I hissed. I risked a peek over her shoulder and squeaked. “Bollocks, he’s coming over here. Just… Don’t… Ugh. Stop looking, Eliza!”
“What? I can’t help it. I’m sorry.”
She did not look sorry. At all.
Lord Dashing, or whatever his name was because I still did not know, bah, approached with a quick bow. But before he could address us or offer any kind of greeting, I blurted, “It’s you.” Wincing internally, I took in the man before me. Dressed all in black with a plain domino half mask, he was stunning. His eyes shone behind his mask. Icy blue eyes unseen in nature. I openly admired his face and belatedly noticed the silence after my graceless pronouncement had gone on quite some time.
Eliza slowly leaned over to stare between us. I perceived her face entering my field of vision with some effort. “Good evening, My Lord,” she began in an effort to draw our attention.
My mystery gentleman—I needed to stop thinking of him as mine—the mystery gentleman of my brief acquaintance (that’s better) inclined his head and offered a polite, “my lady” in Eliza’s general direction. His gaze returned to my person after the momentary departure. He absorbed me with his eyes, taking me in in pieces and parts. Lord Dashing’s perusal warmed my cheeks, but a very small feminine part of me cheered internally at his appreciative once-over. Eyes strayed to my shoulders, neckline, before finally sweeping down the length of my deep violet gown. He returned my admiring stare as his gaze found my mask-covered one.
“Yes, my lady. It’s me. Would you care to dance?”
Thank you for the advanced copy of NEANDERTHAL SEEKS DUCHESS by Laney Hatcher. All opinions are my own.
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date published : May 2, 2022
pages : 348
There are three things you need to know about Lady Jane Morrison:
1. She frequently finds herself the talk of the ton and for all the wrong reasons.
2. A dashingly mysterious gentleman has caught her attention and even more dangerous…she has caught his.
3. She’s rubbish at embroidery.
After scandalous events during the London season, Lady Jane is attracting the wrong kind of attention. Her reputation is at risk as well as all her carefully laid plans for the future. And for better or worse, a chance encounter with a mysterious lord sets forth a series of events that will change their lives forever.
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