What I've Read This Week Part II
In "Cakes Kisses and Confusion" by Lynn Collum, John Burns, the new Earl of Sederfield, is summoned to his aunt's house to keep his cousin Roger from making a dreadful alliance with a Miss Annabelle Hill. John promises to call on the young lady and check her out and decide whether his cousin is making a mistake. Upon arrival, John changes his mind and turns to leave when he's pelted in the face with a ... cheesecake! He looks up to see a beautiful young lady beckoning him to her balcony. Believing her to be the scheming Miss Annabelle Hill, John decides to investigate her outrageous behavior. What John doesn't know is that the cheesecake-throwing lady is Miss Annabelle Hill known as Belle, the cousin of Miss Ann Hill. Belle has been a virtual prisoner in her aunt's home for three years. Belle's aunt refuses to allow Belle to be present when Sir Roger calls on Ann or even venture farther out than the garden. Aunt Evelyn's excuse is that Belle's parents caused a scandal years ago but Belle knows the truth is that Aunt Evelyn fears Belle will outshine Ann and doesn't want competition for her daughter. Desperate to leave the confines of Aunt Evelyn's home, Belle is determined to make her own way in the world until she receives her inheritance. When she spots Lord Sedgerfield, she believes he can help. John, believing Belle is Ann, readily agrees to help the young lady run away from home, thinking it will expose her character to his cousin. He hopes to avoid being trapped into marriage by hiring a maid for the girl, but when they arrive at their destination, both are thrust into an unexpected situation where they learn a lot about friendship and love. The author has included a recipe for Devonshire Cheesecakes at the end of the story. This is a really sweet Regency romance. There's good chemistry between the characters and they get to know each other while in the middle of a crisis. I appreciated the sweet simplicity of the romance. There's a subplot about John's friend Sam, which is also really nice, even if the characters don't behave according to the etiquette of the day. Lovers of sweet Regencies/kisses only will like this one best of all.
Nicole Beaufort, heroine of "The Way to a Man's Heart" by Wilma Counts, is living with her late mother's aristocratic English relatives. Her French father lost everything in the Terror and too proud to ask his late wife's family for help, he has disguised himself as Nicole's guardian, a French chef. Nicole has inherited her father's proud spirit and his cooking skills. She disdains English food and declares she can do better. When her cousin bets her that she can find work as a cook for six weeks, she accepts the bet and takes a job in the home of Adam Prescott, Earl of Thornwood. Adam is busy feeling sorry for himself. He was seriously wounded in the war and lost an eye, he lost his best friend and his fiancee jilted him when she saw his injuries. He sees no reason to live. He feels sorry for himself and refuses all food. Nicole is outraged that her employer doesn't seem to like her cooking. She's determined to get him to eat something but first she has to get the proud, handsome soldier to stop pitying himself and start living life. As Nicole barges her way into Adam's life, he can't help admiring the fiery little cook. Slowly, their friendship turns to love, but Nicole's big secret may prevent true happiness. There is a recipe for Nicole's Salmon Souffle at the end of the novella. The story is a bit improbable since Nicole is a young lady of genteel breeding and education, but it's a fun read. The relationship develops nicely over the length of the story and the misunderstanding is cleared up quickly. There are some sparks between the lovebirds, but nothing other than passionate kisses. Though I liked the first novella better, I enjoyed this one. My only real complaint is that it's very similar to Sam's plot in Collum's story but obviously great minds think alike.
"Not His Bread and Butter" by Jo Ann Ferguson is the final novella in this collection. Meredith Tyndale works as a kitchen maid for Percival Dunstan, the new Lord Westerly. Each morning Meredith brings him his breakfast along with a slice of her fresh-baked cinnamon bread. When the Lord Westerly takes a very active interest in Meredith, her friend urges her to succumb to his charms. Meredith is very attracted to the man, however, she refuses to give in to temptation. Her family was once gentry and though fallen on hard times, she has been taught to behave like a lady. Her reluctance makes Lord Westerly more interested in getting to know her. His 5-year-old brother adores her and her cinnamon bread is nearly as delectable as the lady. Meredith unfortunately becomes the subject of much gossip, which only increases when something unexpected happens. The more he learns about Meredith, the more Lord Westerly is certain that she's the woman for him. He just has to convince Meredith and her parents of that fact. A recipe for Cinnamon Bread is included. I didn't like Lord Westerly practically slobbering all over poor Meredith. Their relationship isn't based on much that is developed in the story though they both state the reasons why they love each other. I liked this story least of all. It was too fairy-tale like and unrealistic for my taste. The recipe for Cinnamon Bread sounds TO-DIE-FOR! I hope to try it and if I do, I'll let you all know how it turns out,