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Rockliffe #1

The Parfit Knight

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When the Marquis of Amberley's coach is waylaid by highwaymen and his coachman shot, he is forced to take shelter at the first house he finds and is subsequently trapped there for a week by a severe snowstorm.

Oakleigh Manor is the home of Rosalind Vernon who lives alone but for her devoted servants and an ill-natured parrot, cut off from the outside world by the tragic result of a childhood accident. But Rosalind is brave and bright and totally devoid of self-pity - and it is these qualities which, as the days pass and the snow continues to fall, touch Amberley's heart.

On his return to London, the Marquis persuades Rosalind's brother, Philip, to bring her to town for a taste of society, despite her handicap. But the course of Amberley's courtship is far from smooth. Philip Vernon actively dislikes him; Rosalind appears to be falling under the spell of the suavely elegant Duke of Rockliffe; and worse still, Amberley is haunted by a dark and terrible secret that, if revealed, may cause him to lose Rosalind forever.


First published September 25, 1986

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About the author

Stella Riley

20 books367 followers
Stella Riley lives in Kent, England. She enjoys theatre, travel and playing the harpsichord.
Her award-winning 7 book Rockliffe series (recommended in The Times!) is available in audio, narrated by Alex Wyndham.
She is also the author of 6 books set in the 17th century: The Marigold Chain, A Splendid Defiance, The Black Madonna, Garland of Straw, The King's Falcon and Lords of Misrule.
All titles are available from Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and Apple.
Rockliffe Book 6 - Cadenza - is the 2019 Readers' Favourite gold medallist for Historical Romance and also the 2021 Book Excellence Awards winner in the Romance category.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 329 reviews
Profile Image for Ingie.
1,328 reviews169 followers
March 20, 2016
Review written March 20, 2016

4 1/2 Stars - The very best kind of historical to listening to. Amazing good (1:st class) narrator and a very lovely sweet "oldish" story.

My first Stella Riley historical (and also 2016:s Valentine Day gift to myself), the nevly published audiobook of a quite old romance from 1986 (or 1987). — 7 fantastic audiobooks hours narrated by one of the very best, Alex Wyndham.

England 1774...
The love story about the Marquis of Amberley and young Rosalind Vernon.
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« When the Marquis of Amberley's coach is waylaid by highwaymen and his coachman shot, he is forced to take shelter at the first house he finds and is subsequently trapped there for a week by a severe snowstorm. »

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I'm so glad I didn't hesitate, but once again chosed a (full price) audiobook with a great narrator more than from the storyline itself or the book's author. Add some bright promising reviews from a lady here (Caz) that I now have the highest confidence in terms of a trustable rating audiobooks.

The Parfit Knight a sweet pretty old-fashioned romance has just everything i want in a HR. — Heartbreaking and tender unforgettable moments. The perfect amount of deliciously (chaste) hot scenes. Great dialogue and a well written light and highly romantic classic love story. Add a brave warmhearted hero every woman dreams of, a beautiful heroine to truly love and admire, not one but two lovestories and not unimportant, a bunch of interesting second characters.

Simply perfect romance enjoyment
After listening to this audio edition, with this formidable terrific narrator, I can't but in the fairness do other than round up to five brilliant GR-stars. — Are you (still) a Georgette Heyer's admirer? Is a delicious romantic kiss good enough...? Then you will love this. — Highly recommended audiobook.
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I LIKE - and love Alex Wyndham's voice in my earbuds

Lucky, lucky me! — I just got an e-mail I'm one of five winners of Stella Riley's audiobook giveaway. I'm now the owner of the second just published audiobook, #2 - The Mésalliance.
Profile Image for Mo.
1,350 reviews2 followers
June 9, 2017
4.5 sweet stars.

Well, I must say this was very enjoyable. Thanks to Ingela and Karen for the heads up. I actually bought the kindle edition as I am not "big" into audio ... although I did download the second one and enjoyed an hour of it on my commute home from work this evening.

The Marquis of Amberley is rich, assured and thirty-four years old, with the reputation of being a law unto himself and a degree of charm which even his friends consider disastrous. When his coach is waylaid by highwaymen and his coachman shot, he is forced to take shelter at the first house he finds and is subsequently trapped there for a week by a severe snow storm. Oakleigh Manor is the home of beautiful, twenty-two year-old Rosalind Vernon who lives alone but for her devoted servants and an ill-natured parrot, cut off from the outside world by the tragic result of a childhood accident.

I adored Rosalind. And I adored The Marquis. Love to see these men about town brought to their knees ...

"Are you never serious?"

Very engaging tale. If you are looking for sexy scenes and plenty of bed-time, look away now. But, you know, if the story is good, I can do without.

"Goodbye is such a very final word and I don't greatly care for it. I think that I would rather say au revoir."

Like the princess in her high, stone tower, she waited in vain for her lover to come ...

I will definitely be check out more books by this author.

Profile Image for Mei.
1,881 reviews408 followers
May 9, 2018

I loved everything in this story!

Amberley and Rosalind... ahhh... what a wonderful couple! Their love story is what I call romance at its best! The sweetness, the tnederness, the sheer roomance that shines!

The writing, the dialogues, Rosalind's force of will...

I don't have enough words to describe how I felt!

If you want a truly romantic story, you cannot missi this book!

Profile Image for Karen.
799 reviews1,005 followers
May 10, 2016

What a little gem this was! Thank you very much Ingela for recommending this fabulous book. It was so incredibly well done. I fell in love with every aspect of the story. The writing was impeccable, the characters romantic and intriguing, and the storyline kept me glued to the book from start to finish. And you were also right about the narrator... Alex Wyndham. His voice was exquisite!!! I could listen to that man read just about anything. So I am looking forward to reading the next two books in the series, well listening... that is!!!
Profile Image for Lady Wesley.
924 reviews313 followers
July 6, 2021
This is my first Stella Riley book, but it most assuredly will not be the last. Despite recommendations from several friends, I had put off trying this author’s work, but when she engaged British actor Alex Wyndham to narrate the audio version, I jumped at the chance to listen.

Because I am a word nerd, my first task was to look up the meaning of “parfit,” which turns out to be from Chaucer and is an English variation for the French word for “perfect.” In this book, Dominic, the Marquis of Amberley is handsome, charming, intelligent, and kind – a perfect knight to swoop in and rescue lonesome Rosalind Vernon. Dominic is a bit of a rake, but not nearly so much as society may believe. He doesn’t really care about the ton’s opinion and makes no effort to correct some of the more outrageous tales about his exploits.

Rosalind is twenty-two, unmarried, and blind. Ever since the accident that caused her blindness twelve years earlier, she has lived virtually alone at Oakleigh Manor, surrounded by familiar things, a devoted staff, and a raucous parrot with the vocabulary of a sailor. Her parents are dead, and her elder brother, a recently sold-out army officer, is not on the scene. Rosalind is content, however, with being loved and protected from the outside world. She has not one iota of self-pity, but in reality, she is living the unfulfilling life of the proverbial bird in a gilded cage.

Dominic appears at the doors of Oakleigh Manor during a blizzard after highwaymen have severely wounded his coachman during an attempted robbery. Upon meeting the lady of the house, Dominic is gobsmacked by her beauty and astonished to learn that she is blind. Although he knows that it is improper for him to be staying in the home of an unchaperoned single lady, he rationalizes that the weather and his coachman's injuries compel him to be on the premises. He is also just a bit intrigued by Rosalind and somewhat appalled at what he considers her brother's unfeeling neglect.
During the days that follow, Dominic enjoys prompting Rosalind to step outside her comfort zone. They spend hours talking, go on little expeditions, and have a snowball fight. Dominic treats her with respect, like a fully grown woman and not a helpless child. Eventually, he confesses to her that he does feel pity for her, not because of her blindness but because of her solitary, reclusive life at Oakleigh.

Rosalind slowly blossoms in Amberley's company and is intrigued by his suggestion that she should insist upon being brought to London for a season. The most beautiful scene in the book, I thought, was when he is teaching her to dance and suddenly realizes that he has fallen in love with her. It's always fun to read a story where the more traditional roles are reversed – he is world-weary rake plunged into romantic love for the first time in his life. For her part, Rosalind is smitten by Amberley, but she has no expectations and thus no thoughts of true love.

Storm clouds appear on the horizon, however, as Amberley suddenly departs Oakleigh Manor for London, where he encounters Rosalind's brother, Lord Phillip, who knows Amberley's reputation and considers him totally unsuitable for Rosalind. Rosalind arrives in London as well, and things begin to get complicated, but I won't spoil it by revealing more. There is a Big Secret (which at one point becomes fairly easy to figure out), the results of which are perhaps too easily forgiven. Rosalind and Amberley, however, are both such good, kind, honorable people that it is not too difficult to believe that they are able to overcome the obstacles to their HEA.

One of the joys of this story, besides the lovely romance, is the introduction of compelling secondary characters. Amberley's best friend and potential suitor for Rosalind, the Duke of Rockcliffe, is so intriguing that we want to see more of him – a desire that Ms. Riley fulfills in the next book, The Mésalliance. Lord Phillip is by turns kind and infuriating, as he doggedly refuses to see any good in Amberley. His fiancée Isabel is a strong, independent, sympathetic woman who helps Phillip see another side of Amberley. Isabel's brother is her polar opposite – selfish and deceptive – and the closest thing to a villain in the story. Each of these characters is so well-drawn that their appearance midway through the story does not in the least detract from the main plot. And finally, there is comic relief from the ill-tempered parrot, Broody, a shameless scene-stealer who indirectly inspires a duel.

Narrator Alex Wyndham gives his typical first-class performance. As I have discovered in other books, he has the ability to subtly change his voice to suit a variety of characters – from the French dowager Duchess of Amberley to her sexy son to, yes, Broody. I have just about run out of superlatives to describe the excellence of his work narrating historical romances, so I will say simply that when you have listened to one of his books you will want to hear them all.

I am so glad to have finally discovered Stella Riley and look forward to the next two books in this series coming out in audio. I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that her widely-respected English Civil War series will be forthcoming. As for The Parfit Knight, it is just a parfit historical romance.
Profile Image for Wollstonecrafthomegirl.
472 reviews195 followers
February 5, 2017
Thank goodness for Goodreads. Without Goodreads, or rather, without my Goodreads friends recommending it, specifically Georgie, but endorsed by all my other GR’s friends who have read it, I would never have picked up this book. I would have thought nothing of the title, less of the cover, turned my nose up at a Georgian setting and seen that it was a behind closed doors, so-called ‘clean’ romance and wondered why I should expend the effort.

This was so worth the effort, because, of course, it was no effort at all. This book is a charming, romantic, funny, beautiful, lovely effortless thing and everyone should read it.

I’ll start with the writing, which is wonderful. Riley creates a sense of time and place with quick nifty, beautiful descriptions without ever being over-long. What she’s created is a properly Georgian romance. There’s a lot of elaborate dressing crucially on the men, as well as the women. The little descriptions convey it excellently, where so many other historical have a tendency to slip into some peculiar Georgian/Regency/early Victorian hybrid.

The characters! I hardly know who to start with. Amberley, I suppose, because I am half in love with him after this. A fantastic hero. Witty and kind with an acute moral code and at his best, as all romance heroes should be, when he’s trying (not always successfully) to do the right thing for the woman he loves. On which note: Rosalind. Capable, courageous, clever Rosalind. Blind, but not willing to let it define her life, even when it might be the easier course to step back. Together, they are a remarkable couple. One knows instantly when they meet that they are meant for one another, but the interlude they have alone together at the start of the book confirms it and Riley makes magic between them:

”Hour by hour, the outside world receded further into the realm of things forgotten and unregretted while time itself seemed to hang motionless in the frosty air; and the Marquis, strangely content to let it be so, spoke no more of departure.
Indeed for him as much as for Rosalind, the days of effortless conversation and small, shared pleasures were of the stuff that fills the golden treasure house of memory…”

These two are meant for one another. Amberley’s jealousy of Rock is delightful. Rosalind’s uncertainty about him given his (daft) decision (his ”policy of vigilant laissez-faire”) to try and let her have various experiences is palpable. It’s to her credit that she does not become some simpering sad mess about it all, and it’s to Amberley's that he’s inconsistent in his application of said policy and still finds his way to her on numerous occasions. As I say, these two are meant for one another. There were moments of sadness, when Rosalind is hoping he’ll call at the end of the book and Isabel turns up instead, when Amberley realises his link to Rosalind and that he must go away, when he hears of her proposals from other men:

”Just for an instant the candlelight danced oddly before Amberley’s eyes and the cheerful sound of the room became muffled, like things under water."

That’s what I mean about Riley’s writing, not many words, but isn’t that just how it is when you hear something new and terrible?

The story is marvellous. Rather Heyer-like [she declares, with certainty, having only read one Heyer to date] - pivoting on a number of misunderstandings and half-told stories but with a ballroom-to front room-to Whites-to Vauxhall progress to the story with a chase to make the romantic declarations at the end. It moves along swiftly and without any excess baggage to the plot.

The secondary characters! They must be mentioned. Rosalind’s somewhat dim and blustery brother, Philip and his much more than she seems fiancee Isabel, managing him and making him see matters for what they are but in a completely unobtrusive manner. Their secondary romance was a delight.

Rock. A Duke with all the flounce and pomposity and detached sardonic cynicism one might expect of someone in his position. I loved Rock, and I am extremely please he is next in this series. I also loved his relationship with Amberley – what a well, written, Georgian-appropriate, funny, comradely, male friendship. They had some great exchanges:

Without removing his hand from the wide velvet cuff, his Grace stared absently at the onyx signet ring on his finger and said remotely, ‘Dominic, my loved one – you look ripe for murder. Either dissemble a little… or let me do it.’
For a second, the Marquis could not trust himself to speak. Then he said unevenly, “No. But I thank you for your advice and will repay it with a little of my own. Stay out of it, Rock.’ And, shaking off the restraining hand, he closed in on the group about Rosalind.”

Everyone had their own personality. Isabel’s awful brother. Amberley’s knowing mother.

Even Broody, the moody, sweary, parrot is a triumph:

Broody set out on his travels in an unusually amicable frame of mind occasioned by the inborn certainty that this was what parrots were made for. He liked the chaise and its motion excited him. Swaying rhythmically on his perch, he peered coyly through the bars of his cage at Lord Philips and then spat an experimental seed. Philip cast him a withering glance and brushed the seed from his cravat.
‘Wark!’ screeched Broody happily and walked sideways along the perch with his head on one side. ‘Damn the captain – sod the mate!’ And, carefully selecting another seed, spat again.”

That is the skill Riley has shown in characterising a parrot , so just imagine what she’s done with the rest of the book. Go, go now, and read this.
Profile Image for Jacob Proffitt.
2,897 reviews1,501 followers
January 17, 2018
While I liked Rosalind and Amberley quite a bit, aspects of this story about drove me round the bend. Rosalind is kind of awesome. I like that she's easy to make happy and that she isn't all poor-me about being made blind in her youth. She has had twelve years of dealing with quacks and nostrums and seems determined to do her best to cope and find what joy she may. And I absolutely loved seeing them meet and spend some days together with Amberley pushing her very gently to extend the horizon of what she believes herself capable. I loved their friendship and I completely bought their attachment.

And while I was exasperated that Amberley went all coward and chose to keep his stupid secret, I'm giving the story a pass, just this once.

What I most definitely am not giving a pass to is the idiot Phillip and his head of adamantium. It doesn't help that his stupidity was a bell hung under a trampoline at a pre-school, it rang so often. Seriously, his continuing blindness to every nuance of both Amberley and Rosalind was super-human. And by that, I mean it broke credulity for me and before too long began booting me out of the story every time he fell for some new piece of mischief or completely disregarded the evidence of his own experience.

And while I can almost understand his problem with Amberly, his consistent/persistent negligence of his blind sister put him well beyond the pale as far as I was concerned. Which really hurt the secondary romance with him and Isabelle. She was so sweet and you can see that she yearns for him to care for her, even just a little bit and that about broke my heart—particularly when his .

Amberley's faint heart kept me from being comfortable assigning it five stars. But Phillip nearly drove it to two. So I'm calling it 2½ with enough interest in the main couple for me to round up. Seriously, I wanted to punch Phillip right out of this book so Isabelle and Rosalind wouldn't have to deal with the idiot their entire lives.

A note about Chaste: There wasn't even much kissing, but that fit both the time and the characters very well. Sort of. I don't know how much of the Georgian decadence that is often alluded to in Regency romances actually bears out. So if you accept the tame-ish read of that period then this fits well-enough.
Profile Image for Caz.
2,639 reviews999 followers
January 21, 2016
I've given this an A+ for narration and an A- for content at AudioGals.

I’ve been a huge fan of Stella Riley’s books for longer than I should probably admit! As I’ve said in our interview at AudioGals, I discovered her writing back in the 1980s and loved it so much that it stuck with me for more than twenty-five years, even though she took a long break from writing. In addition to a series of novels set in 17th Century England, she has also written three historical romances set in the Georgian Era, of which The Parfit Knight is the first. Audio versions of the next two books – The Mésalliance and The Player – will follow, and I can say without doubt that the combination of Alex Wyndham’s gorgeous voice and interpretative skill and Ms Riley’s intelligent writing and excellent characterisation makes The Parfit Knight a truly delightful audio experience.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals

Profile Image for Sam (AMNReader).
1,236 reviews264 followers
July 10, 2020
Alex Wyndham is a freaking delight. There's something about his pace and delivery that is perfect and warm. I don't know what I mean by warm other than he seems like he telling me a story while curled up on a couch. Which, yes, is weird. But it feels just for me.

Or...perhaps it was this book. There are like, exactly two kisses. And it was sexy and perfect. I know, I don't get it either. You could go head over heels for the warmth of Rosalind. The way she's got to get to the heart of the matter. How not jaded she is. How she doesn't beg for love and knows she fully deserves it.

Or, you might just fall in love with Amberley. And yeah, it'll probably be both of those things. And as a sideshow, why not flip over his mother?

Amberley is a standard noble hero. But with such lovely heart and humor, generosity that speaks through the pages. It was clear through his relationships or his actions, but he wasn't boring.

I've said before I typically love heroes for the way they love their heroines. This is really true here, yes, but I found it's easy to inflate if he loves his friends and it's obvious. That part of this story really sparkled for me and it's one of the quickest ways to convince me the hero is deserving. You have good friends and you love each other? Perfect stuff.

So anyway, I'm obsessed with this audiobook.
Profile Image for Caz.
2,639 reviews999 followers
July 26, 2012
I’m a big fan of Stella Riley’s civil war/restoration books, but have never read any of the other titles she published under the pseudonyms of Judith Blyth and Anna Marsh, so I was delighted to see from her bio on Amazon that she is revising all of her books for Kindle.

The Parfit Knight was published in 1987 (by Judith Blyth) and it’s utterly delightful. I imagine that some may describe it as formulaic, as it does indeed employ some of the devices regularly used in romance – past tragedy, secrets, misunderstandings –but those are all handled with such a light, sure touch, that this reader certainly didn’t feel as though I was treading any previously well-trodden paths.

I enjoy Riley’s writing style very much. Her descriptions of people and places are always evocative without being over-long, and her dialogue sparkles and is never anachronistic. But what really stands out for me is her characterisation. The few novels of hers I’ve read employ a larger “cast” than many traditional romances, but she handles all her characters extremely well, and you are never left feeling that anyone is surplus to requirements, or has been employed simply to further the demands of the plot. She also has a talent for creating the most wonderful heroes – witty, charming, intelligent, intuitive and honourable, all underneath a worldly-wise and laconic exterior; I was head-over-heels for Amberley within pages of meeting him!

The relationship between Amberley and Rosalind is wonderfully drawn, a true meeting of minds. Most importantly, he is able to immediately understand that what she needs is to be treated like a “normal” person, rather than pitied for her situation.

The moment when Amberley realises he has fallen deeply in love is beautifully written; it hits him like a coup de foudre, and Riley’s writing at that moment is so skilful as to make the reader feel it, too. Their parting, shortly afterwards is so emotionally charged as to be gut-wrenching. I freely admit to having a lump in my throat at that point!

Naturally, the course of true love cannot run smooth, and there are a number of obstacles to be overcome before the HEA, not least of which is the fact that Rosalind’s brother is set against Amberley due to a number of misconceptions. There is a secondary romance in the book – involving Rosalind’s brother, Philip – and a number of well-drawn supporting characters, including Amberley’s friends, Jack Ingram and the Duke of Rockliffe. As in The Marigold Chain, Riley writes these friendships incredibly well; these are men who would do anything for one another, although they are always making jokes at each others’ expense and speaking slightingly of each other.
The Parfit Knight is a beautifully written and characterised romance and I can’t recommend it highly enough. I’m now waiting eagerly for the next reissue, which, according to the notes in this edition, will be “The Mésalliance”, which continues Rockliffe’s story.

Profile Image for Bj.
1,217 reviews263 followers
February 15, 2016
4.5 "A True Gentleman" Stars for the story and 5 Stars for Alex Wyndham's narration!

What a delightful treasure! The intricate plot, complex characters, threads of humor, touching romance and one of the best ever narrations make The Parfit Knight a true gem!

There are so many things that make this this book a special listen. But if I'd have to pick just one, I'd say what I loved the most was how the hero was able to look through the heroine's handicap (she is blind), to see the fully capable, desirable woman that lay underneath the over protected layers that her family (meaning well but burying her in the process) had unintentionally trapped the heroine in. Moreover, this hero, with his multiple, selfless actions with respect to a number of the characters (not just the heroine) definitely deserves the title of "The Parfit Knight." For those of you who may be unfamiliar with this term, a similar phrase was used by Chaucer in the General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, where he described the knight as a "veray parfit gentil knight" which translates to a "very perfect gentle knight." No better words could ever describe the hero of this touching romance by Stella Riley.

A Parfit Knight takes place in 1774 in England. Rosalind Vernon was blinded in a childhood accident. She lives in Oakleigh Manor, pretty much by herself except for her servants, a rather foul-mouthed parrot, and the occasional visit of from her brother, Philip. Though Philip frequents London often, and Rosalind would be entitled to a large dowry virtually ensuring she would have many offers of marriage, Philip has never considered introducing Rosalind to society. Instead reasoning that, due to her blindness, Rosalind is better off in the country in a familiar "safe" environment. Of course Rosalind doesn't really seem to mind, until a chance meeting challenges her view of the future.

When The Marquis of Amberley's coach is ambushed by highwaymen on the countryside, he is left with no choice but to seek the help of the closest home to get aid for his coachman who has been shot. That is how he meets Rosalind and becomes her guest while his coachman recovers and they weather a heavy snowstorm. Over the days of their forced cohabitation, Amberley and Rosalind bond. Amberley seems to be the only man who has ever seen through Rosalind's apparent limitations to see the unlimited potential that lies underneath and challenges her to begin to experience life to her full potential. In his opinion, there is nothing that she can't do, and after a short time passes, it becomes clear to Amberley what he must do: convince Philip to allow Rosalind to be introduced to society.

However, much to Amberley's chagrin, Philip already has a less than favorable impression of him due to a previous unrelated encounter, and is less than happy to learn of Amberley's and Rosalind's acquaintance. Soon it becomes clear that there are a number of obstacles in the way of securing Rosalind's HEA, not the least of which is Philip's disdain for Amberley. As secrets begin to surface and other suitors start to show interest, the future hangs in the balance. Could it possibly include a HEA for Amberley and Rosalind?

I recently discovered the magic of Alex Wyndham's narrations in another historical romance, and he absolutely blew me away! Mr. Wyndham has a naturally appealing voice that is likely to keep you enthralled no matter what the subject matter. Since then he has been on my must-listens to narrators list, so I was thrilled to hear that he was narrating this tale. And as expected Mr. Wyndam delivered another fantastic performance in The Parfit Knight.

Mr. Wyndham is a master at creating distinguishable, personality specific voices for each one of the numerous characters which really brought the multitude of characters from The Parfit Knight to life for me. From the noble and yet compassionate voice of Amberley to the melodic and strong voice of Rosalind, I was equally pleased with both his male and female characterizations.

Additionally, Mr. Wyndham's close attention to the mood of the scene helps to frame each and every scene. Listening to Mr. Wyndham's rendition was simply magical, and I can't wait to listen to more of his works!

If you are a historical romance enthusiast, then I highly recommend The Parfit Knight. And now that my curiosity has been piqued, I can't wait to explore and enjoy more of Ms. Riley's delightful works!

Source: Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Luana ☆.
504 reviews76 followers
October 30, 2021
This book was very sweet apart for all the misunderstandings (which were so many). The heroine turned out to be one of my all time favorites with her sweet heart and intelligence.

The hero here reminded me so much of the hero in "These old shades" by Georgette Heyer that I felt I was back in that world. I loved it. This story was like seeing fate working her magic.

I just did not give a full 5 stars because it dragged a bit until all the misunderstandings were dealt with.

So, 4.5 stars and a stamp of approval for a great HR.
Profile Image for Carol Cork *Young at Heart Oldie*.
425 reviews200 followers
May 5, 2021

A perfect blend of sparkling, witty dialogue, engaging and well-written characters and wonderful romantic chemistry make this such a lovely story.

Amberley is honourable, charming, intelligent and kind-hearted with a great sense of humour…all the qualities I love in my heroes…although he is inclined to let society believe the worst of him. His mother, the Dowager Marchioness of Amberley, warns him that this is foolish:

“You are too much inclined to let the world think what it will and there are times when it is a very great bêtise.”

This is folly indeed, the consequences of which will be seen later in the story.

Since being blinded in an accident, Rosalind has lived in Oakleigh Manor for the past 12 years, with only the servants and a temperamental parrot for company. She is loved, protected and shielded from the world at large, rarely going out beyond the grounds of the house. Rosalind is such a lovely heroine, charming, funny and never wallowing in self-pity.

The romance between Rosalind and Amberley is so beautifully written and I could see how perfect they were for each other and watching Rosalind blossom under Amberley’s influence was one of the highlights of the book for me. I defy you not to fall in love with Amberley just as Rosalind does. One of my favourite scenes is where Amberley teaches Rosalind to dance and realises he has fallen in love with her.

The things he’d taken for anger and compassion provoked by her situation were neither and the simple truth was that he loved her … and because of that, everything about her touched him.

Inevitably, the course of true love does not run smoothly as past secrets, misconceptions, a malicious schemer and Rosalind’s implacable brother threaten their happiness. I feel that Ms Riley resolved the conflict in a most satisfactory way and it was so refreshing to see a heroine willing to love the hero regardless of past tragic events.

I like how the secondary characters are not just there to pad out the story but have an important role to play.

It is clear that Rosalind’s brother, Philip, loves his sister and only wants the best for her. What he fails to understand is that by wrapping her up in cotton wool, he is depriving her of the opportunity to live life to the full.

I wasn’t sure about Philip’s fiancé, Isabel, but she turned out to be quite a dark horse. Beneath her unassuming manner, she has real strength of character but is vulnerable when it comes to matters of the heart. I like how she sees Amberley’s true character and is able to influence Philip’s opinion in a quiet, subtle way. I also enjoyed seeing Philip suffering pangs of jealousy and coming to realise the depth of his feelings for Isabel. I also enjoyed seeing the friendship developing between Isabel and Rosalind.

I adore Amberley’s French mother and it is easy to see who he inherited all that charm from. She is charm personified and I love how Ms Riley captures that delightful French lilt in her voice too.

Isabel’s brother is a selfish, spineless, manipulative coward and I was pleased to see him get his just desserts although maybe not as harsh as he deserved.

I enjoyed the camaraderie and witty banter between Amberley and his friends, the Duke of Rockliffe and the Honourable Jack Ingram. It is clear to see that a close bond exists between the three of them.

Last, but not least, I LOVE Broody, the parrot. He steals every scene he appears in with his disdain for everyone except Rosalind, and his ribald language. He is just hilarious and I love the seed battle between him and Amberley.

I am really impressed with Ms Riley’s writing whether it is her wonderful descriptive flair…

Curtains of violet damask were closed across windows flanked across one side by an ebony escritoire and on the other by a delicately inlaid harpsicord. There were shelves full of books, a frame holding a half-worked tapestry and a large, gilt cage housing a brightly-coloured but decidedly sulky-looking parrot.

or her ability to convey real emotions…

Excitement rippled through her veins and set the nerves vibrating beneath her skin, producing a tiny shiver of mingled fear and delight. A part of her that had not stirred for a very long time stretched its cramped muscles and began to wake, luring her from the safe harbour of her cultivated, hard-won tranquillity and setting her adrift in the alien, almost forgotten seas of hope and doubt.

or the moments of hilarity…

Broody waited, cautious but interested and, when the second seed was flicked his way, he side-stepped it neatly and put his head on one side.
‘Bugger!’ he said. And then, hopefully, ‘Clear for action?’



Rockliffe series (click on the book covers for more details):

The Parfit Knight (Rockliffe, #1) by Stella Riley The Mésalliance (Rockliffe) (Volume 2) by Stella Riley The Player (Rockliffe, #3) by Stella Riley

This review is also posted on my Rakes and Rascals Blog:

Profile Image for Marquise.
1,685 reviews279 followers
July 30, 2017
This is another of Riley's earliest novels published as Juliet Blyth, and although it still shows her going through her following-a-model phase (Heyer in this case, or so it feels like) with its rough edges, she is already improved considerably and is establishing her own style more boldly. I am glad to see this progress, for that was I'd been hoping for after the last novel of hers that I read.

The storyline is a traditional Regency, and as such it follows a straightforward, very linear and rather formulaic plot with no twists and turns to knock readers down in shock, the closest to a surprise would be a circumstance surrounding the heroine's blindness that isn't that subtle to guess out precisely. It's a pure romance, in the sense that the romantic relationship is the story and there's no background events or overarching events affecting the main plot, which makes it feel restricted in scope.

What I liked about this relatively short novel is that the heroine, Rosalind, is unusual. She is blind, and lives isolated in a big countryside manor, and people who meet her don't realise at first she's blind because she moves round a place as if she could see. This happens usually with people who are born blind as they have to learn from babyhood to move round and their movements are more natural and that masks at first that they can't see; I had a classmate like that. Not so people who lose their sight later, who move more awkwardly, and so I was curious as to why Rosalind was so proficient and how she'd come to be like that. The explanation the author gave, that she was trained to acquire as much independence of movement as possible and that it only works when she knows the place intimately, was appropriate. Rosalind still is very dependent outside her small world, and doesn't get a chance to expand her circle until she meets Amberley.

I wasn't so convinced about her willingness to forgive the circumstances that robbed her of her sight, though. She was too accepting and doesn't even take a pause to mull over it. Although there's a case to be made that she fell in love much before and by the time she has to confront the elephant in the room, it's late for backpedalling. Still, it's a hard pill to swallow, and I am sure for some it may be a bit big to get down their throat. For me, not particularly given the context.

If you want to have a go at traditional Regencies and like clean and uncomplicated (. . . sort of) romance, then this is a good book to pick up.
Profile Image for Leona.
1,721 reviews18 followers
August 21, 2017
Oh my. What can I say? I love historical romances, especially regencies. But I must admit, they can be very formulaic with little differentiation from one to the other. Except this book does it, and does it very well. It's fresh and fun. Yet, it has some dark moments that add texture and keeps the reader's interest. But with all that said, the most important aspect is the characterization. It's strong with complexities that are slowly revealed over the course of the story. No one (well almost no-one) is painted with a singular shade of black or white.

The hero and heroine are lovable.
Profile Image for Preeti ♥︎ Her Bookshelves.
1,269 reviews20 followers
November 15, 2021
Here's a well written book with a period suitable language, a fairly good plot and really lovable mcs but still I couldn't love it as much as many of my friends have.

Profile Image for Jultri.
1,061 reviews6 followers
March 4, 2020
4.25/5. Lovely book. Nice strong heroine who never lets her blindness affect her confidence in her own worth. Marvellous hero who instantly sees her as a worthy woman and not a woman with a disability, and who has the sense to realise and admit to himself that his heart has been captured and even greater sense to seek advice from his awesome mama. Great bunch of secondary characters who supported with plenty of humour and wisdom and guidance, some unsolicited but still appreciated. True love is temporarily waylaid by a bona fide scumbag, a well-meaning but clueless brother of the heroine, and an incident in the past that ties them irrevocably together and yet appearsto preclude a HEA for them.

...for a moment, the urge to take her hands was almost overwhelming. What held him back was the knowledge that, to her, this emotion he could not quite identify would appear to be the thing she most dreaded – pity; and he had no right to break the rigidly maintained composure which was her only defence. Consequently, because there seemed to be nothing else left, he took refuge in levity.

Mistress Vernon laid down her knife and said unsteadily, ‘Don’t. Are you never serious?’
‘Less often, perhaps, than I should be,’ he admitted ruefully. ‘Are you?’
‘Me?’ She gave a tiny crooked smile. ‘More often than I should like.’
He sensed a wealth of things left unsaid and wondered why it should touch him; but their acquaintance was too slight and he was too wise to probe...

‘I’m always polite,’ said the Marquis, hurt.
The Dowager’s eyes twinkled. ‘Yes – but you laugh and it is not always well-received.
Profile Image for Steelwhisper.
Author 5 books391 followers
February 26, 2015
This was ok, but barely so.

It's the classic, extremely basic romance plot of the big misunderstanding, with two couples thrown into the fray instead of one, and the misunderstanding is of such a constructed, unlikely kind that it cost this book 2 stars right there. I mean !

Next, I really, really hate this approach of disability. As if there was anything commendable about it. Why are disabled people not allowed to be bitter, unhappy or regretful? Why do they *have* to be "strong" and "get over it"? This is actually still being seen as positive for one reason only: so they will not cost the able a thought and a pence. Welfare is cumbersome after all, and the invalid are "best hidden from the public eye", that has been the British take of it for ages.

The characterisation also isn't carried through, because if Rose was as insistent on doing everything herself, she sure as hell would have seen to it that she is provided with the relevant means. She isn't poor, she could have afforded paying for a chaperone of her choice.

Another star went off for the unfortunately rather pretentious prose, which felt laboured and indeed dated. On the other hand: Amberly's mother and the parrot were delightful. Unfortunately this doesn't carry a whole book.

A pleasant tale, but not something I would read again.
Profile Image for Gavin.
853 reviews385 followers
July 27, 2019
The Parfit Knight was fairly tame book with a sedate pacing that had a distinctly old school romance feel to it. It still managed to be a pretty enjoyable tale!

When the Marquis of Amberley's coach is waylaid by highwaymen he is forced to seek refuge in a nearby house to seek treatment for his injured coachman. He ends up stuck there for a week due to a severe snowstorm and duly becomes enchanted with his hostess, the lady Rosalind Vernon. Rosalind has spent her life living in the country after a childhood injury left her blind. After returning to London Amberley prevails on Rosalind's brother, and guardian, to bring her to London for a taste of society and a chance at a life that is not so isolated. Things go less than smoothly as Philip, Rosalind's brother, and Amberley had a run in just before the Marquis left town that cast Amberley in a bad light. To make matters even worse Amberley is hiding a dark secret relating to his past that he fears will cost him Rosalind affection if it becomes known too soon.

It was a fun enough story. Philip, Rosalind, and Amberley were a likeable trio of characters as was a bunch of the other support cast like Philip's fiancée and a few of Amberley's friends. The drama came from the fact that Philip's ass of a brother-in-law managed to cause a ton of bad blood and misunderstandings between the other characters. I was fine with that since it meant we got a bit of drama while still being able to root for all the likeable characters. The other good thing about the story was the fact that Rosalind and Amberley seemed like a good pairing and that they truly seemed to like each other and enjoy spending their time in each others company.

If the book had a flaw it was that Stella Riley's writing style was a tad distant. Not enough to hurt my ability to enjoy this one as the characters and story were both fun but noticeable enough that I was not quite as sucked into this book as I was while reading my previous romance story by Tessa Dare.

All in all I did still enjoy this one and will likely try the sequel at some point in the future.

Rating: 3 stars. Feels a little harsh but I've read a bunch of good stuff lately!

Audio Note: I feel like Alex Wyndham did an OK job with the audio. His character voices could have been more distinctive but he did have a pleasant sounding voice.
Profile Image for Tweety.
433 reviews196 followers
November 24, 2015
Ahhh... Just the bit of historical romantic fluff I wanted.

I don't see much point in going over the plot so I'll just say that the heroine is disabled and keeps much to herself. The hero has a secret in his past that he'd rather not remember and certainly doesn't want the heroine to find out about.

This was very sweet and well done. Reminiscent of Georgette Heyer, but a tad more "modern" sounding in places. It's chockablock with misunderstandings, but somehow it's not as infuriating as that sounds. What I like is that the heroine never lost faith in the hero and that whatever his past, the hero was honorable now.

There's a pleasant side story involving the heroine's brother and fiancée. The brother is a hotheaded pest for much of the book but you can see that he means well most of the time. And that's something I like, I enjoy books where siblings get along fairly well or at least like each other.

Everything I expected and hoped for was here, dueling, banter and Georgian manners. There's also rude parrot that adds amusement and most of the swear words. This book is perfectly clean, a few kisses is it. Though there is mention of mistresses.

PG Some swears, Ds, Hs, and all three Bs, courtesy of Broody the parrot.
2,823 reviews42 followers
March 27, 2022
The H and blind h fall in love; they share a history but she is unaware. Her brother's good intentions isolated her and the H was determined to give her the world. There's an interesting secondary romance with the brother and his fiancé. It's a great read, funny, romantic and sweet.
Profile Image for Namera [The Literary Invertebrate].
1,179 reviews2,790 followers
April 14, 2022
This one is just lovely.

22-year-old Rosalind has been blind ever since she was knocked down by a nobleman's carriage as a girl. Unbeknownst to either of them, said nobleman - the Marquess of Amberley - ends up near her house after a carriage accident and is forced to stay when snow strands him. Over the course of weeks spent together, the two fall deeply in love.

This bit of the book is very sweet, although I'm suspicious of the historical accuracy - surely they wouldn't have been allowed to spend so much time alone together without a chaperone?! Anyway, Amberley refuses to propose straight off because he knows he's the only man Rosalind has met, so he arranges for her brother to bring her to London and show her off to society. She makes a splash, notwithstanding her blindness, but then of course he realises he's the cause of her blindness, and can't possibly propose.

All in all, a clean, adorable little regency.

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Profile Image for Ira.
1,056 reviews91 followers
April 16, 2017
3.75 stars.

A lovely and sweet romance:)
This book remained me to Barbara Cartland's book which I read tons of them with Mills and Boons's books in my early teens.
Actually my first HR read were Ms. Cartland's books then I kind of stop reading hers once I found Johanna Lindsey's and Julie Garwood's books.

I guess it's nice to read sweet romance like this again in my HR books:)
Profile Image for Piper.
302 reviews76 followers
May 22, 2016
This was a marvelous story—I loved everything about it. And Alex Wyndham is a fabulous narrator. OMG!! His voice is sexy as f**k!!!
Looking forward to the next two in the series, as I've no doubt they will be just as good.
Profile Image for QNPoohBear.
2,955 reviews1,475 followers
November 8, 2015
grr Good Reads ate my review!

"He was a verray, parfit, gentil knyght."
~Geoffrey Chaucer, Prologue, The Canterbury Tales

At almost 10 years of age, Miss Rosalind Vernon loves teasing her older brother Philip and racing him through the countryside. On the day before her 10th birthday, she meets with a terrible accident that will have repercussions that last through the whole novel. A dozen years later, the Marquis of Allendale has recently returned to London from a sojourn in France with his latest mistress only to be accused of fleecing young Robert Dacre out of 3000 guineas at a card game. Young Captain Philip Vernon may be new to London but Robert is his brother-in-law and he won't stand by to see his friend taken advantage of. Allendale deals with the matter with humor and good grace, just as he deals with all of his problems. Summoned home on urgent business, Allendale's carriage is held up by highwaymen and his coachman shot. The men seek refuge at the nearest house, the home of Mistress Rosalind Vernon. Then the snow begins to fall and Allendale is trapped. He's stunned by his beautiful hostess and shocked by her limited world. Rosalind slowly begins to blossom as Allendale figuratively opens her eyes to the wider world. She begins to fall in love and Allendale too, experiences more than feelings of friendship. Then she reveals something shocking and Allendale's world is rocked. He decides it's time to withdraw from his lady but first convinces Philip it's in his best interest to give Rosalind a London Season. Rosalind is scared and delighted. She enjoys the company of her sister-in-law Isabel and the Duke of Rockingham. She soon becomes the toast of London and Allendale is completely miserable. Philip can't understand why his sister turns down numerous good opportunities for an advantageous marriage. There's only one man Rosalind wants and he doesn't seem to want her back.

This is a squeaky clean Heyeresque Georgian romance. The plot and characters are influenced by Heyer, but the blind heroine makes the story unique and saves it from being another Heyer copycat story. The plot pacing could be a bit better. The beginning is slow but once the hero and heroine meet, the story picks up. I had a hard time putting it down until I found out how these two got together. I could have done without the gambling brother plot and some of the dialogue is lifted from Austen and Heyer but tweaked to fit the situation. Otherwise the story is well-written and I liked the descriptive writing style. I didn't like the head jumping point-of-view shift very much and thought the author should have stuck to Rose and Allendale.

Though the characters are not very memorable and don't leap off the page, they're well-written. Rosalind is a wonderful heroine. I loved how she didn't let her blindness affect her attitude. She never dwells on what she can't do, she never laments her lack of sight or blames anyone for the accident. She's independent, strong, intelligent and stubborn. She knows what she wants and how she gets it is funny and charming. Her soon-to-be sister-in-law Isabel is also charming. She's sweet and caring but has a lot of backbone and knows what she wants. Like Rose, she's a good judge of character.

The men don't fare as well as the ladies with the exception of Allendale. Denzil is so charming. He has a reputation as a rake but he isn't really. He's sensitive, kind and caring. He deals with his feelings with humor and enjoys a shared sense of humor with Rose. I like how the romance develops, though it happens quickly. It's very sweet. Philip is an awful brother. He's selfish and unimaginative. He never stops to think about how Rose feels or what she wants. He loves her very much and thinks he's doing the best for her but he has placed in her a gilded cage and more or less forgotten her. He's quick to judge and has a hasty temper. He supports his awful friend Robert long after he shouldn't. Robert is truly a terrible person. He's selfish, manipulative, cruel and a liar. I couldn't stand him and failed to see why Phil supported him. The two best men besides Allendale are Broody, a salty-tongued parrot and the charming Duke of Rockingham.

Read this if you like Georgette Heyer and early copycats.
Profile Image for Christa Schönmann Abbühl.
895 reviews17 followers
January 9, 2022
Re-listen on January 2022. So many books are waiting for me, but re-listening is much safer. I knew how good this is, and went through all the feelings, as before. Beautiful writing and narration.

Added on March 2018, after listening to the audio version: I started a re-read by listening to this wonderful series, before allowing myself to read the newest installment. I’d heard much good about the performance of Mr Wyndham with the audiobooks, and I agree wholeheartedly. He does a perfect job with this perfect book. I was again deeply immersed from the get go. And close to the end I reacted very harshly to any outside interruptions to my enjoyment. And yes, I cried, again. And will do so in my future re-reads, I’m sure.

PS. Mr Wyndham did very well with the French words and the accent. Except for some small problems with the male/female forms of some words I would have thought he speaks the language. Bravo.

Original review:

Five stars, all the way, no hesitations. This is the kind of old fashioned regency romance that made me into a romance reader a long time ago. I am SO thankful to the person who mentioned this author in a comment on the Smart Bitches website. The cover art is so heinous, I would never have considered buying it. This was as heart wrenching a read as I could wish for, the writing and descriptions putting me throughly into that polite world of old time English high society, where storms rage inside fashionably clad breasts and where a glance or a word has so much more meaning, and a touch can lead to ruination. It is a fantasy world that gives me deeply felt joy, and from a certain point in the book NOTHING could have wrenched me away before finishing it, and wallowing for a bit in the feelings of happiness that ensued. Ah... that such books still exist. I will go and buy everything this writer has ever published and that is available on Kindle. Not quite as adventurous in the plot department as my beloved Patricia Veryan, but coming close with her characters and the "feels" they provide. Who needs a sex scene when a passionate, long awaited kiss can do it so much better?

PS. I am aware this is not technically a regency, as it is a Georgian setting.
Profile Image for Linda .
1,789 reviews248 followers
August 6, 2016
The Past: Rosalind Vernon is not paying attention and runs out into the path of an oncoming carriage. A young gentleman comes out and carefully removes the little girl from the road and takes her to a doctor.

Fast Forward Ten Years Later:

There is another accident but this time Joe Coachman has been shot. The gentleman locates a cottage and is welcomed inside. He brings his injured servant with him until a doctor can be located.

The Marquis of Amberley is greeted by the most beautiful woman he has ever seen. What is unusual is that she is blind but he doesn't allow that to affect their new friendship. And because of an unexpected snowstorm, the initial stay is extended. All the while, they entertain each other. And then it happens: deja vu.

This gentle romance is about two people who meet in a roundabout way. By no means 'parfit', Amberley attempts to cover up a secret and gambles with his love for Rosalind. The conflict that arises comes from Rosalind's brother Phillip and others that are close to the couple. All of them have their best intentions. So, savor the witty dialogue; it brings their story to life.
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