Learning to Waltz

Written by Kerryn Reid
Review by Steve Donoghue

The dawn of the English Industrial Revolution forms the backdrop for Reid’s stirring and intelligent novel, the main action of which defies typical Regency stereotypes by centering its action far from the glittering salons of London and concerning itself more extensively on the small-scale dynamics between its two main characters, flinty, strong-willed, widowed single mother Deborah Moore and dashing, brooding Evan Haverfield, a jaded denizen of those glittering salons who, at the beginning of the novel, finds himself in the country during a December snowstorm, when the whole village has been turned out to search for Deborah’s young son, Julian, who has wandered off in the storm.

As the child recovers, Deborah and Evan gradually come to know each other under the pretext of caring for Julian, and Reid excels at the slow, careful picture of two complex personalities fitfully learning each other’s nature. The tensions and issues of the historical backdrop are drawn with more vividness and well-researched detail than is usually the case in more standard Regency romances, but it is the convincingly-drawn characters who are the main attraction of this extremely promising debut.