The Honourable Earl
Set in 1763, this is the romance of Lydia Fostyn and the Earl of Blackwater. Lydia is being pressured into marrying a wealthy but unattractive older man to improve her family’s financial security. The earl has just returned from a ten-year exile in India, in consequence of a duel he fought with Lydia’s brother, his childhood companion. Lydia’s father was accidentally killed in the duel, and she has blamed the earl for her family’s misfortune since then.
Although stereotypically beautiful people, the earl, Lydia, and the supporting characters have human dimensions and faults. Nichols uses description of period costumes and cosmetics; prevailing attitudes about marriage, class distinctions, and financial security; and just a little period slang, to create a period atmosphere. She switches point-of-view from one character to another, occasionally distractingly. A specialist in the period might find fault, but I found it a pleasant bit of escapism.