In brief: The newly married Lady Bexley begins to keep a diary as her frustrations in the marriage bed build.
The good: A fast, steamy read.
The not-so-good: If you’re looking for intricate historical details, this is not the book for you – it’s character and action based.
Why I chose it: One of the Australian Romance Readers Award finalists (ecopy given to me at Romance Writers of Australia conference 2013).
Publisher: Escape Publishing
My rating: 7.5 out of 10
Sometimes, all you want in a book is something to transport you away from your day-to-day life and engross you in another world. Although that sounds like a simple achievement, it’s not always easy to accomplish. The Secret Diary of Lady Catherine Bexley does this very well – it gathers you up in a rustle of skirts and deposits you into her Regency world.
From the very start, the reader has the complete trust of Lady Catherine Bexley, newly married and already frustrated. Why frustrated you ask? Catherine (I think we can go by first name terms here as she is so frank in her diary) expects more from the marriage bed and she’s not getting it from her husband. Aha, one of those stories you might be thinking, arrow hovering over the X button. But wait – while the book is candidly about sex in an upper class lady, it’s never dirty or seedy. Lady Bexley retains her grace while describing her urges and her plots to get her husband to notice her as a woman. Does she succeed or does she turn to someone else? It’s a fast novella, so you can easily read this in one sitting and find out her fate.
The focus of this book is predominantly on the Bexleys and their intimate relationship, so there’s not a great deal of setting. It’s important to remember that you are reading Catherine’s diary, where she reveals more about herself than to any human. This is an excellent plot device in my opinion for breaking through the social restrictions at the time and revealing that women, no matter the setting, have similar issues. The historical setting also allows for a bit of a naughty feel, that the reader is going behind closed doors. It’s a fun, sexy romp with plenty of action, perfect for those wanting to have a dip into a steamy historical world.