What I've Read This Week . . .
A Rake's Redemption by Susannah Carleton (Book 4 of "The Six")-- Regency Romance
Theo Middleford, Viscount Dunnley has a reputation as a rake. Sure he has a healthy appreciation for the pleasures that women can provide, but he never dallies with innocents or married women. After an incident with a so-called widow, he decides to give up willing widows which means he needs to find a wife. He wants a wife who is not just a hostess or a "brood-mare," but someone who will be a friend and companion as well as a lover. He doesn't have far to look, being fond of the new wives of his cousin George and George's friend Elston. Theo decides to look more closely at Beth and Karla's friends and decides to pursue Lady Sarah Mallory, the reserved Welsh beauty. He understands that Sarah's musical talent shows that she has a passionate nature underneath her reserve. Already in her second Season, Sarah vows to find a husband before the end of the Season, which is a rather daunting task for someone who is shy. When Dunnley begins to pay attention to her, Sarah feels nervous and quivery and doesn't understand why she feels so disconcerted around him. Sarah also receives attention, of the wrong sort from "Nasty Ned" Simpson, which makes her afraid. Dunnley is all that is kind and considerate, helping rescue Sarah from unwanted attention. Dunnley feels he can better protect Sarah if they are married or at least betrothed, but the problem is breaking down Sarah's reserve and convincing her they belong together. This is a sweet romance story that's a little on the short side. I liked Sarah and could relate to her reserve, but sometimes the author made Sarah a bit too melodramatic with her reactions. I was also confused as to how the cool, reserved Sarah of previous books turned into the shy, nervous Sarah of this book. I wouldn't label Dunnley as a rake. He behaves more like his cousins than a typical Regency rake. He's someone I could see any sensible girl falling in love with. I like the way the relationship between Dunnley and Sarah develops. I think it's very realistic. I loved the family reunion scene though it was kind of long and unnecessary. This is a quick read and the kind of book that makes you feel warm and happy inside. It isn't entirely necessary to have read the previous books in the series, but it would help.
Prequel to Kiss of the Highwayman and Miss Whitlow's Turn Miranda, Lady Crandle, agrees to leave the comfort of London and travel to the country to help her dearest friend Lady Beatrice Rothwell entertain a house party during the Quorn hunt. The real purpose of the house party is to bring eligible gentlemen to the notice of Lady Beatrice's daughter, Artemis, who refuses a London Season. Artemis is a tall, gawky tomboy who prefers horses to men but Miranda sees more to Artemis than meets the eye and is determined to help the young lady gain confidence in herself and find the love match she deserves. Lord Rothwell's first choice of a husband for his daughter is the handsome Evan Langley, Earl of Ashbourne. Evan arrives at the house party eager to find a wife and mother for his future heirs. He does not expect to run into Miranda, the woman who jilted him seven years earlier. Miranda is not prepared for the emotions that seeing Evan again brings out in her. He is bitter and angry at her for choosing to marry a man three times her age just for his wealth and title. Evan knows little about the true reasons for Miranda's decision and the regret she feels. Evan is determined to punish Miranda for breaking his heart while she is determined to win his love once again and prevent young Artemis from making the same mistake she did. This story is the best of the three, but it's not fabulous. Evan is a very bitter and angry man and I couldn't understand why he couldn't just accept Miranda's reason for jilting him and let her go. I also couldn't understand his reasons for not wanting to accept Miranda's love a second time. Miranda is one of those typical widows who was trapped in an unhappy marriage but she doesn't weep or whine about it, for which I admire her. She realizes she made a mistake and recognizes her true feelings for Evan, which is a little unusual for this genre but a nice change. I felt an overwhelming sense of sadness throughout the story and I think it could have worked as a comedy of manners rather than a tragedy of unfulfilled passion.