Romance at the Royal Menagerie by Ruth J. Hartman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Francesca Hartwell adores the big cats at London's Royal Menagerie. Her father has been their caretaker her whole life and has raised her by himself since her mother left them both to marry a wealthier man. As a young woman, Francesca's not allowed to be employed at the menagerie, but helps her father anyway. Sometimes, when no one is looking, she even goes inside the cages! Why? Because Francesca has a gift...one that will come in quite handy when a handsome stranger walks into her life.
Enter John Fairgate, raised and groomed by his titled uncle to take his place when he dies. The old man hasn't got much time left and is desperate to see John married to a proper lady before he dies. He's even picked out a lovely trick of a woman for his nephew that John can't stand in the least. When John meets Francesca, sparks fly, but she's definitely NOT a "proper" lady in his uncle's eyes.
Ruth J. Hartman tackles some timeless conflicts like love vs. money while adding her own feline-loving spin into the plot. Francesca's "gift" with the big cats does prove quite handy when a villain tries to sabotage everything. And really, that's the only little criticism I had. The villainry had a lot of potential, but didn't provide quite the oomph that it could have.
Overall, however, this sweet regency romance was the purrfect distraction for a weekend by the pool. I'd recommend it to anyone who loves a quick, non-explicit tale with a feline twist!
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