I received this book for free from my own shelves in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Aphrodite by D.G. Rampton
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Author on October 2021
Source: my own shelves
Buy on Amazon
Second in the Regency Goddesses humorous historical romance series, which appears to be revolving around the pleasantly scheming Duke of Claredon. The couple focus is on April Hartwood and Hugh Royce in 1820 England.
I’ll start off with complaining about the lack of accuracy on the manners of Aphrodite. Rampton pays attention to what should and shouldn’t be allowed, but then ignores it completely. Something of an hypocrisy.
That said, it was a fun romp with a strong female character with Rampton using a third person global subjective point-of-view — we do hear from a number of characters.
Ya gotta love April. She’s kind, considerate, and has a biting wit, lol. Her approach to her great beauty is practical, and Rampton does present it well. I love the relationship she has with the duke, lol. That Eustace is enough to make me come back for more! Yeah, Lady Hartwood is a sweetie, but so clueless and without a backbone.
“Self-deception is akin to a captain steering his ship blindfolded.”
How can you not love Hugh: “Personally, I hold him in great affection and do all I can to set up his back.”
Ya gotta love Mrs Delamer too, with her ambitious plans for her granddaughter. She lives without fear and continues to live her life to the fullest.
They are lying like rugs, all to ensure April marries — the man they want her to marry. It’s a convoluted plot with plenty of humor. That list Mrs Delamer has compiled . . . and the truth of it . . . is quite depressing. For April.
I can understand why no one wants anyone to learn of Lady Hartwood’s mother, who had lived in sin with her earl. Unfortunately, there are too many intelligent (easygoing) characters who figure it out quite easily.
Rampton does set up insta-love, but enjoys playing with both of them denying it.
Some of my niggles include wondering how Lady Hartwood’s cheapskate husband let her spend so frivolously; why Madame Franchot’s and Monsieur Balzac’s names are italicized; April calling so many of her new friends by their first names; discussing business in polite company; using “Estate” as part of the name for country homes; and, more.
As long as I don’t expect a strict adherence to Regency morals and manners, I did enjoy Aphrodite.
Lady Hartwood is insisting that her daughter marry before she will, and so this trip to London to hunt for a husband. Only . . . April Hartwood’s husband-to-be has already been determined.
Lively and strong-willed, April does not appreciate being compelled to catch a husband. Yet, before long, she finds herself courting the affections of the Duke of Claredon, while struggling with a wholly inappropriate attraction to the insufferable Mr Royce.
April Hartwood, soon to take up her title to the St Mawes Estate for, is determined to remain unmarried. Her mother, Eleanor, Baroness Hartwood, has been a widow for two years. Rachel Browning is April’s not-too efficient maid; Keighly is her mother’s lady’s maid. Layton is their butler. Mrs Plum is both cook and housekeeper. Kenan is their Cornish footman.
Their unacknowledged grandmother/mother is Mrs Delamer, and they’re under threat to never reveal her existence. The fifth Earl of Windermere, was Eleanor’s father. It seems the sixth earl is a puritanical jerk. Amelia Jameson, with the heart and soul of a courtesan, is a respectable, longtime friend of Mrs Delamer’s. Marble Hill Manor is Mrs Delamer’s house in Richmond. Monsieur Balzac is Mrs Delzmer’s famed chef. Stevens is her butler, “inherited” from Windermere. More of Mrs Delamer’s friends include General Simpson, Sir Yarmouth, and Mr Oatley.
Hugh Royce has an outlandish fortune (and is heir to the Marquisate of Talbott) and is engaged to Miss Starling. Georgina, Hugh’s mother, had been a terrible person — mother, wife, sister — worshipping only herself.
Albert, Viscount Paisley, is engaged to Eleanor. Barnaby Paisley, the Earl of Wulfingston is Albert’s cantankerous father and Hugh’s grandfather. Aunt Mathilda lives in Cornwall. Lord Dysart is a friend of the earl’s, who lives at Ham House, near Mrs Delamer’s.
Eustace, the Duke of Claredon, is quite the catch. Alfred Kepling is his easygoing cousin. Roberta Kepling is Alfred’s late mother.
Mrs Starling is a prim, ambitious, and patronizing woman, who has taught her daughter well. Miss Luella Starling is her avaricious daughter. Harry is Mrs Starling’s father. Miss Lumley is a friend of Luella’s.
Mrs Warrick is the proprietor of a milliner’s shop. Madame Franchot is a French modiste. Child & Co. is the Hartwood family bank. Mr Wethering is the bank manager. Stevens is a bank clerk. Mr Pigott is a hair stylist. Guests at Mrs Jameson’s introductory party include the Rickmans; Lord Thompson, who is acting quite giddy, contrary to his usual self; and, the Longevilles, who actually showed up. Mrs Hall brings her son for a visit. The obnoxious Mrs and Miss Beechcroft — Mrs is a friend of the duchess and exhibits a distinct lack of taste. Lord Windham would like to propose. The duchess’ friend the Baroness of Highcliff also inherited by writ. Mrs Bolton is old and bold and rumored to be Oatley’s lover. Lucille Nelson had been a highly successful courtesan in Paris fifty years ago. The kind Joe Hobb and his lady run an inn down the road from Marble Hill Manor. Sam is their strong son.
Back in Cornwall
April’s wanna-be suitors include Reginald Poppley, Spingells, and William Stanton. Mr Brightly is the Hartwood man of business. “Mr Pimlico” held the mortgage on the St Mawes Estate, a.k.a. the Blackburne Estate.
The Cover and Title
The cover definitely comes across as a Regency novel with a portrait of April from the nose to her waist, sitting behind a laden table. A deep turquoise ribbon tied around her throat with a matching overlay on her white dress, and she’s clutching a posy of flowers. A somewhat transparent black banner crosses the table to better showcase the scripted title in white with a black shadow. Below this is a faded black-and-white image of a London street, acting as a background to the author’s name in a deep red. A black banner at the very bottom contains an info blurb in white.
The title refers to the duke’s nickname for April, Aphrodite, a nickname bestowed on another as well *eyebrow waggle*.