What I Read This Weekend . . .
Miss Anne Haycroft's uncle wishes to marry her off to a man she can't stand and Anne can't think of any way out of it. Justin, Lord Rochford happens to discover Anne's dilemma and offers his help. He brings Anne to his very respectable Aunt Mary's home, where they try to figure out how to thwart Anne's uncle and keep her safe until her 21st birthday in a few weeks. They invent tales of prior bethrothals and Justin enlists the aid of his younger cousin and friends to act as Anne's suitors. Anne's uncle and her would-be fiance do not give up easily and as Anne relies more and more on Justin for her safety, she discovers that she relies on him for happiness as well. If only Justin felt the same. Aunt Mary is not immune to the attentions of eligible gentleman either. This is a fairy typical traditional Regency plot. The characters are, however, unconventional. Anne handles her situation in an appropriate manner for her class and time period and Justin is all that is respectable and proper. I admire the way Anne deals with her wicked uncle and horrible suitor. I also like the way the characters gradually realize their feelings for one another and act on their feelings in a sweet and subtle manner without lengthy passages about desire. I do not feel that the romance rings true towards the end though. Both characters doubt where they have no reason to and it makes the ending of the story drag on to long unnecessarily. The characters don't have any opportunity to really grow and develop because they're both so respectable. This is an average sweet Regency and I like it but it's not a keeper.
Miss Persys Timothy was orphaned at a young age and went to live with her aunt and uncle as a companion for her cousin Katherine. Now Katherine is happily married and Persys is left without a home. She's lost with no idea of what to do next, as well as being infatuated with her cousin's husband, and utterly miserable. The Duke of Eddington sees Persys at his cousin's wedding and is drawn to her exotic name and beautiful face. He offers her a position as companion to his mother who is recuperating from an injury. Glad to have an opportunity to be useful, Persys happily takes the job. She ans the Duchess get along very well, despite the Duchess's demanding nature. The Duke seems aloof and distant at first, but as Persys gets to know him, she sees that he's a devoted son and a good friend even to those who don't deserve his friendship. Harry, the Duke of Eddington wants Persys for his wife and what he wants, he always gets. He just has to figure out how to woo the lady and for that, he has to keep her on his estate long enough to convince her that she's the wife for him. Harry and his mother manipulate Persys into doing what they think is best for her, but the naive Persys may ruin their plans. This book is well-written. At first Harry seems like a spoiled, demanding Lord and he and his mother are both managing types, but in spite of that, I really liked the romance and the characters. The manipulation techniques employed in this book are subtle and more suggestive than demanding/commanding and Harry improves upon acquaintance. There isn't a whole lot of profound character development and Persys is a mash-up of the Austen heroines she likes to read about. Persys is two party Fanny Price, one part Marianne Dashwood, with a sprinkle of Elizabeth Bennet. This is a sweet regency for fans of that sort of story. There are a few kissing scenes but nothing steamy and the romance is well-developed and plays out sweetly.