What I've Read This Week . . .
Joanna Patterson, a homely vicar's daughter, has been hired as companion to Miss Harriet Wicksfield to act as chaperon for Harriet's first season, screen Harriet's suitors and keep Lady Wicksfield from over-spending her budget. All this is a tall order for a daydreamer like Joanna, but she prides herself on her intelligence and interest in helping others. Joanna's interests lead her into disaster as she continually crashes into Lord Sedgewick Wylie. Sedge is a dandy and a leader of the ton who prides himself on his perfect public appearance. Whenever he encounters Joanna, he meets with disaster. Joanna becomes tongue-tied around the arrogant lord and he believes her to be a brainless idiot. Joanna strikes up a friendship with Sedge's brother Reggie, Lord Ellisham and work together to find Harriet the perfect husband. Sedge is certain that Joanna is a desperate fortune hunter out to ruin his brother and their family. Sedge is determined to separate them, yet can't help but be attracted to Joanna's womanly figure. A public scandal and unhealthy family relationships create a lot of drama and nearly prevent these birds of a feather from realizing they belong together. The hero and heroine of this novel are truly not birds of a feather. Sedge is a rude, arrogant, selfish, snobby, pig who is nothing but cruel to Joanna. Joanna begins to understand that Sedge has a hidden side to him that's vastly different from his public persona but the story from his point of view does not develop his character sufficiently to really understand him or like him. This book is a sequel to a Bird in Hand, which I did not read. Perhaps if I had, I would understand Sedge's anger better but the story should really be able to stand on its' own. I liked Reggie much better and he would have made a better husband for Joanna. I was more interested in poor Harriet's fate than what happened between Joanna and Sedge. Needless to say, I did not like this book and won't be looking for the prequel.
Bething's Folly by Barbara Metzger -- Regency Romance
Lord Alexander Carleton is a bachelor Corinthian who has no interest in marriage, until a summons from his father, the Duke of Carlyle, reveals the Duke's ill health will prevent him from knowing his son's wife and heirs unless Alex weds soon. Alex promises and his mother sets out looking for a suitable bride for her son. Alex despises all the young debutantes, until a chance encounter in his father's library introduces him to Miss Elizabeth Bething. Elizabeth is outspoken and unaffected; she is also the owner of a racing stable! Alex is captivated by Elizabeth and sets out to woo her with the help of his best friend. Elizabeth prefers horses to men and has even less interest in marriage than Alex does until her guardian withdraws her horse from an upcoming race. The horse is Elizabeth's hope for her stable and for her future happiness. Wanting to help Elizabeth, Alex proposes to Elizabeth so her horse can race until his name and not "disgrace" Elizabeth's uncle. Elizabeth believes the marriage is one of convenience and a misunderstanding on their wedding night drives Alex and Elizabeth apart until those they love face danger. I have mixed feelings about this book. The first 100 pages were funny and sweet. If you took Elizabeth, removed her horses and replaced them with the dog rescue plot of Primrose Lane, add a dash of bluestockingness, then you'd have me as a Regency heroine! Needless to say, I really liked Elizabeth and could relate a lot to her. I did not like Carleton very much. He started off bad, got better while wooing Elizabeth and turned into a colossal jerk on their wedding night. I hate marriage of convenience misunderstanding plots and the last 70 pages of this book were no exception. The book should have continued as a comedy of manners. The author should not have changed direction 3/4 of the way through the story. The misunderstanding plot just didn't make sense given the first part of the story. My advice is read the first 100 pages and then skip ahead to the last page or imagine what you think would happen to Elizabeth and Carleton.