by Elizabeth Everett
Publication Date January 18, 2022
Published by Penguin Publishing Group
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Genres: Fiction / Romance / Historical / Victorian, Fiction / Women
A PopSugar and BookBub Most Anticipated Romance of 2022!
How do you solve the Perfect Equation? Add one sharp-tongued mathematician to an aloof, handsome nobleman. Divide by conflicting loyalties and multiply by a daring group of women hell-bent on conducting their scientific experiments. The solution is a romance that will break every rule.
Six years ago, Miss Letitia Fenley made a mistake, and she's lived with the consequences ever since. Readying herself to compete for the prestigious Rosewood Prize for Mathematics, she is suddenly asked to take on another responsibility--managing Athena's Retreat, a secret haven for England's women scientists. Having spent the last six years on her own, Letty doesn't want the offers of friendship from other club members and certainly doesn't need any help from the insufferably attractive Lord Greycliff.
Lord William Hughes, the Viscount Greycliff cannot afford to make any mistakes. His lifelong dream of becoming the director of a powerful clandestine agency is within his grasp. Tasked with helping Letty safeguard Athena's Retreat, Grey is positive that he can control the antics of the various scientists as well as manage the tiny mathematician--despite their historic animosity and simmering tension.
As Grey and Letty are forced to work together, their mutual dislike turns to admiration and eventually to something...magnetic. When faced with the possibility that Athena's Retreat will close forever, they must make a choice. Will Grey turn down a chance to change history, or can Letty get to the root of the problem and prove that love is the ultimate answer?
A Perfect Equation by Elizabeth Everett is her second book in The Secret Scientists of London series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone novel. This regency-era, somewhat steamy romance, has a brainy heroine, and baby hedgehogs!
Miss Letitia Fenley (Letty) is a brilliant mathematician that works in her best friend’s women’s club for women scientists named Athena’s Retreat. Violet, the owner, and manager of Athena’s Retreat must leave to go to Scotland for a few months and leaves the management of Athena’s Retreat in Letitia’s capable hands. At the same time, Violet’s husband, Arthur Kneland, has also asked his friend, Lord Greycliff (Grey) to watch over the brilliant women of Athena’s Retreat.
Letty and Grey have a history, six years ago, Letty made a huge mistake, and Grey has never forgiven her. But, when they are both tasked to take care of Athena’s Retreat, their coolness towards each other warms as they both discover things about each other that they didn’t know before. They have very different views for the future of Athena’s retreat, and they are in almost constant conflict with each other.
I love a book with a brainy heroine, and this book did not disappoint. I’m often reluctant to read Regency-era books because I’m always dismayed at the injustices of that time period. Injustice for women, people of color, between the classes, and the unfairness of life during that time period. However, The Perfect Equation gives me characters that fight back against these injustices, and I was loving it. We saw women scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and just super-intelligent women, supporting each other in the pursuit of science. And that’s another aspect of this book that I loved, these women were all working together and supporting each other, even though they are from different classes, and different cultures, they all helped each other to grow and become better.
I just loved the slow-burn romance between Letty and Grey. They both have a history and some personal issues that make them reject personal relationships. Letty because she believes she’s a fallen woman, and Grey had a history of seizures that he controls by cutting himself off from people. As they work together to keep the women of Athena’s Retreat safe, they learn about each other and begin to admire each other and let go of their preconceived notions.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a historical romance. I received a complimentary copy of this book. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Slipping through the crowd, Letty approached the building as a thin wail rose from the doorway. A beady-eyed man with a pinched mouth and spidery fingers had grabbed the shopgirl by the wrist, halting her escape.
“Don’t bother trying to go to work. We’re shutting this place down until they stop employing women in their factories and hire the men back,” the man said.
A tinkling of broken glass punctuated his threat as someone launched a sign at the ground-floor window of the shop. The atmosphere turned in an instant from hectoring to predatory. With a foreshadowing of violence, the group of individuals molded into a single organism-a dragon ready to pounce on whatever threatened. This monster’s hoard consisted of power rather than gold.
“Oh, no, you don’t,” Letty said through gritted teeth, clenching the straps of her heavy reticule in one hand.
“Letty!” Sam called after her. “Letty Fenley, you come back here this instant. I know you don’t listen to me, but for goodness’ sake, will you listen to me?”
Fear set her stomach to churning, but Letty allowed nothing to show on her face. Instead, she stuck her chin out and her shoulders back. Never again would she suffer a man intimidating her into submission, and she’d be damned if she watched this happen to any other woman. As Flavia Smythe-Harrows always said, sexual dimorphism does not excuse bad behavior.
What a pity Letty didn’t have that printed on a banner.
Without benefit of a rival sign, she used what was available in the moment. Swinging her reticule around twice to achieve maximal momentum, Letty brought it down, hard, on the wrist of Beady Eyes.
“You let go of that girl, right now, you weasel-faced, onion-breathed . . .” Letty’s stream of insults was drowned in the crowd’s protest at the sight of their fellow man being assaulted by what someone deemed “half a pint-sized shrew.”
“Half a pint indeed,” Letty shouted back. “I’m less than an inch shorter than the median height for a woman of my weight, based on-Oy, stop waving that sign in my face.”
Before Letty could take another swing at Beady Eyes, the sound of horses whinnying and men shouting from somewhere at the edge of the crowd broke the tension; a decrescendo from taunting voices to garbled protests heralded the arrival of authority. Jumping up for a better look, Letty spied two well-dressed men on horseback.
“On your way,” a clipped, aristocratic voice shouted to the crowd. “Disperse at once.”
The crowd buckled, its mood shifting from dangerous to frustrated. Letty protected the girl as best she could from the sudden shoving around them. Most of her attention, however, fixed on the familiarity of those crisp, clean syllables echoing in the air.
She would know that voice anywhere. Their rescue rode toward them in the form of Lord William Hughes, the Viscount Greycliff. A traitorous wave of relief that he would put an end to the danger was quickly followed by a cold dose of shame.
Six years ago, she’d believed him the epitome of nobility and elegance until that voice had delivered a verdict upon her head. The words he’d said and the pain they’d caused were etched into her memory forever.
“I don’t care if you’re Prince Albert himself. Move your arse, man!” A deeper baritone, the voice of Greycliff’s companion, now carried over the crowd. “Put down the signs, or I’ll put them down for you.”
“Are they here to rescue us?” the girl asked.
Visions of Greycliff riding up on a snow white steed flashed before Letty’s eyes. A handful of years before, such an image would have set her heart to racing and put roses on her cheeks. She would have caught her ruffled skirts in one hand, ready to be swept away by a hero, lit from behind by a shaft of golden sunlight.
Not anymore. The dirty grey-brown reality of working-class London remained solid and smelly before her eyes. These days, romantic scenes remained between the pages of a well-thumbed book.
“Never wait for someone else to rescue you,” Letty advised. “Especially a man. They’ll ride away on those fine horses afterward, and where will you be? Still here, cleaning the mess, having to work for an owner who couldn’t even be bothered to come out here after you. Rescue yourself, my dear.”
“Shall we run for it?”
“We could, but I’ve a better idea.” Letty turned to Beady Eyes and held up her reticule. The man flinched, but she had other plans.
“Want to get rid of two troublesome women?” she asked him. Pouring out a palmful of coins, Letty made an offer. “Here’s your chance.”