Lofty moves from medieval to Victorian romance in this first in a series about the Christie siblings. Lady Vivienne Bancroft is trapped in a loveless marriage to a dissolute viscount whose interests lean more towards gambling and drinking than being a good husband. Desperate to escape Viscount Bancroft’s clutches, she flees to New York, but is forced to return when her adoptive father dies. Sir William Christie spent his life amassing a large fortune, which will be split up among the four Christie siblings – but there’s a catch. Vivienne’s challenge is to take a diamond mine in South Africa and turn a profit within one year. Viscount Bancroft’s presence at the reading of the will – and his determination to help Vivienne earn her inheritance – adds a further challenge.
The majority of the book is set in South Africa following the Boer War, and while Lofty touches on the racial and ethnic tensions of the era, there was less depth than I expected. The love story between Vivienne and her husband drives the plot, and the sexual tension between the two is handled nicely. Lofty obviously did some research into the history of the South African diamond trade, as there is plenty of detail, but the plot never gets bogged down. Romance readers who enjoy exotic settings and passionate love scenes will find plenty to like in Lofty’s latest.