When we last saw “Infamous” Esme Rawlings, she was newly widowed, pregnant, and unsure of the fatherhood of her unborn child. She has fled into seclusion to her country estate, where she intends to remain. Her plan is simple - to reform herself among the local gentry, who are unaware of her London reputation. She wants to raise her child in peace and provide her husband, Miles, with the heir he wanted when he died.
Now, while A Wild Pursuit tells the romance of another couple, Esme and her attempts to reform take up a great deal of the book. In fact, this background activity engages the reader for at least a third of the plot. By the time the hero, Stephen Fairfax-Lacy, and heroine, Lady Beatrix Lennox, finally get together; I was more interested in antics of Esme, Sebastian and Helene. I am sure that this is not what Ms. James had in mind.
It is interesting quandary. How do you keep recurring characters “alive” in the timeline of events while not allowing their actions to overshadow the main characters? In my opinion, the verbal sparring and initial dislike between Stephen and Bea, which ultimately turns into attraction and love, is the secondary romance of A Wild Pursuit. Of primary interest, at least for this reader, was the fate of Esme, her unborn child, and the man she loves, Sebastian, Marquess Bonnington.
If I examine the book in this fashion, then I find a wonderfully entertaining story, filled with familiar characters and charm. Esme and Sebastian are perfect for each other. Esme’s friend Helene finally decides to confront her estranged husband, with some very amusing results, and the unlikely romance between Stephen and Bea is resolved quite nicely. It all becomes a muddled mess if I try to see them as the main characters. So while I enjoyed the book a great deal, I want to offer a word of advice - disregard the synopsis on the back cover and just read it with no preconceived notions. It works much better that way.