My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it
Cassie, the youngest of six daughters in the Wilton family, is bold, bright, and ready to enter society. There's only one problem: her older sister Lenora, whose extreme shyness prevents her from attending many social events. Lenora is now entering her third season, and since their father has decreed that only one Wilton girl can be out at a time, Cassie has no choice except to wait her turn.
Evan Glenside, a soft-spoken, East London clerk, has just been named his great-uncle's heir and, though he is eager to learn all that will be required of him, he struggles to feel accepted in a new town and in his new position.
A chance meeting between Evan and Lenora promises to change everything, but when Lenora proves too shy to pursue the relationship, Cassie begins to write Mr. Glenside letters in the name of her sister. Her good intentions lead to disaster when Cassie realizes she is falling in love with Evan. But then Evan begins to court Lenora, thinking she is the author of the letters.
As secrets are revealed, the hearts of Cassie, Evan, and Lenora are tested. Will the final letter sent by the vicar's daughter be able to reunite the sisters as well as unite Evan with his true love?
I loved the Regency countryside setting, with the vicar's family at the center of the story along with the newcomer heir to one of the largest estates in the neighborhood. There is a strong focus on the complex dynamics of family relationships which I enjoyed. I loved seeing the generosity Evan's uncle has for him, especially since in most stories the distant heir is reviled or seen as undeserving. Evan's genuine compassion for his uncle's sorrow creates a balance in their relationship where they are each benefiting from the other's support. In fact, that is what I liked most about Evan, his genuine nature, and that is what I think he found attractive in Cassie. Her manipulation of Evan and Lenora is not well thought out, and the deeper she gets, the more complicated the situation becomes. I initially found it hard to have sympathy for her, but the author is skilled at writing flawed characters and then bringing about a deep redemption, so when Cassie was enduring her period of penitence and self-reflection I felt for her anguish and admired her determination to make things right with those suffering from the consequences of her impulsive decisions. The cast of characters was so vivid and really came to life in my head as I read the book. I absolutely loved the resolution and it made up for some of the more depressing parts when I got my happy ending ;)
(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)