Author: Virginia Taylor
Publisher: Kensington Lyrical Press
Release Date: April 14, 2015
An aspiring dressmaker, orphaned Starling Smith is accustomed to fighting for her own survival. But when she’s offered a year’s wages to temporarily pose as a wealthy man’s bride, she suspects ulterior motives. She can’t lose the chance to open her own shop, but she won’t be any man’s lover, not even handsome, infuriating Alisdair Seymour’s…
To prevent his visiting sister from parading potential brides in front of him, Alisdair has decided to present a fake wife. He lost his heart once, and had it broken—he doesn’t intend to do it again. But stubborn, spirited Starling is more alluring than he bargained for, and Alisdair will risk everything he has to prove his love is true…
Set against the sweeping backdrop of 1866 South Australia, Starling is a novel of cherished dreams and powerful desires, and the young woman bold enough to claim them both…
At first, I didn't like Alisdair. He was so...stiff, you know? All proper and uptight and crap. His rigidness drove me crazy, and I almost quit reading because of him. Don't get me wrong. I understood his need for a pretend wife but the way he acted with Starling... I wasn't a happy camper with him for a good chunk of this story.
Starling, though, was interesting. Definitely less infuriating than Alisdair, which was nice. She balanced the scenes, lent a softness to it that Alisdair needed. Not that she had to do anything, mind you. Her job was to give off the appearance of a perfect wife, to play hostess to his host, to be biddable to his commanding. Except she wasn't all that biddable. She was of her own opinion, which got her in trouble when she worked for Alisdair, but I liked seeing that part of her shine through when she was alone with Alisdair.
I wasn't wholly on board with Alisdair's unfinished business with the woman his sister brought as a potential bride. Years ago he'd give said woman, Lavender, his heart and she rejected him because he wasn't wealthy enough. Yes, he's still a little bitter over that but he claimed to still have feelings for her as well. There was something between them, don't get me wrong, but I would say it was more younger-years infatuation. In bed, they probably were good together. Out of it? I didn't understand the attraction. She was self-serving and superficial. Why would he want to tether himself to someone like that?
I said I didn't like Alisdair at first. By the end, I was okay with him. The misery he endured after Starling left was necessary. His little head wanted Lavender but his heart and big head knew the better choice was Starling. She challenged him in ways Lavender didn't. She was beautiful inside and out, her concern for others genuine and constant. She understood what it was like to have a less than savory past, but she also understood that it didn't have to determine your future.
I really liked this story. The subtlety of the romance between Alisdair and Starling is why. It almost didn't seem like there was anything going on between them except for a business arrangement. But when I read more closely, paid more attention to their interactions and conversations, I saw it happening. It made the devastation of Starling leaving that much more real, and it made their reuniting that much more meaningful.
Virginia Taylor is an Australian writer of contemporary romantic comedy, romantic suspense, historical romance, short stories, and children's stories.
After a stint at the South Australian School of Art, I worked for an advertising agency, re-trained as a nurse/midwife, and then married the man of my dreams. Two children later, I began writing romance. While awaiting publication, I painted and designed various theatre sets with a fellow School of Art graduate.In 2013 I sold my first novel-length story.