What I've Read This Week . . .
Miss Truelove Beckons by Donna Simpson -- Regency Romance
Lord Wycliffe Prescott, Viscount Drake, has returned home from Waterloo to a hero's welcome. He doesn't feel much like a hero though. He's seen too much death and came too close to dying himself to feel jubilant about being one of Wellington's youngest Majors. Drake is haunted by his experiences in the war and he dreams about it every night. His mother is worried sick and thinks that a lovely bride will take his mind off things. She has just the girl in mind - the beautiful Arabella Swinley, the daughter of her old school friend. She has invited Arabella and her mother to come for a long visit so the young people can get to know one another. Arabella brings along her cousin, Miss Truelove Becket, a poor Vicar's daughter. True is happy to go along with her younger cousin, whom she practically raised. She needs some time to contemplate her future and decide whether or not to marry her father's former curate who has accepted a position up North. True longs to do good works and care for the people of the parish as she does for her father but she has her doubts whether Mr. Bottleby will provide her with true companionship. When Drake meets True, he hears her name as Miss Truelove Beckons and is instantly attracted to her plain yet beautiful looks. True proves to be true of heart as well. As she gets to know Drake, she is able to draw him out and listens to his stories of war without judging him. She is peaceful and calm and knows all the right things to say. She would make a lovely wife for some man but not for Drake, for he feels he is too damaged to make anyone happy. True falls in love with Drake, attracted to his handsome looks, his sensitivity and his wounded soul. Only she can make him happy, but she knows that Arabella will make a better Viscountess and future Countess. Arabella is repulsed by Drake's forthright manner and his horrific night terrors but her mother has her sights set on Drake and won't back down. This is not a typical Regency romance. It doesn't really follow any of the conventional plots. It is different and more serious than the usual lighthearted fare but also different from the traditional villain plot.Though I felt that Drake's PTSD nightmares were gruesome and repeated too often, I liked the wounded hero concept. Drake and True have a special relationship that is pure and sweet. I liked both the main characters though I think some people might find True a bit too selfless. The secondary characters were mostly stock characters but they mostly exhibited some depth as the story went on. The moral of the story is a tiny bit heavy-handed but only just a little bit. The writing is excellent and the descriptions are beautiful.Some might be put off by the relationship between the hero and heroine but I thought it was sweet and romantic. I loved this book because of it's uniqueness and highly recommend it to those who like their Regencies to have substance.
The Marquis' Kiss by Regina Scott -- Regency Romance
Lord Thomas DeGuis has just been rejected by yet another lady (this is a sequel to Catch of the Season). His pride is wounded but his heart is not broken - at least not by love. He does believe that a family history of heart disease will end his life prematurely so therefore, he must marry and set up his nursery soon. It's getting rather difficult to do when the ladies keep rejecting him, all because of a little kiss. Thomas is determined to try again and this time he won't make the mistake of kissing his lady before they're married. An acquaintance literally thrusts him in the path of a Miss Margaret Monroe, someone he's never even given a thought to before. Margaret, however, has thought about Thomas a lot. She is madly in love with the man she thinks is a paragon of perfection but she knows one such as him is not for her. She laughs too loudly, dances too enthusiastically, races her horse in public, speaks her mind and founded a home for reformed ladies of easy virtue. Margaret's stepmother is in despair of her ever finding a husband. Thomas is captivated by Margaret's figure though she's a trifle embarrassing to be seen with. He fears gossip but recognizes that Margaret has feelings too and that she would be hurt if he abruptly rejected her. Thomas agrees to a friendship with Margaret and she accepts. Thomas is a bit preoccupied by trying to arrange a match between his younger sister and good friend Viscount Darton without much success. As he gets to know the Original Margaret Munroe he is captivated by her love for life and begins to think of her as more than a friend but steadfastly refuses to kiss her. Margaret refuses to marry unless Thomas can give her his whole heart. She wonders if she can break through his reserve to win his love. This is not one of the better Regencies but it is not one of the worst. Thomas is a copy of Mr. Darcy but rather more of a stuffed shirt. I did not care for him much, primarily because a key component of his plot is told rather than seen. It makes the story feel rushed where it shouldn't be and doesn't engage the reader. I loved Margaret though she does not behave like a typical Regency lady, even the eccentric ones. I admired her a lot and would like to know more about her. I read this book after reading The Incomparable Miss Compton and I liked getting to know the secondary characters of that book, especially Lady Agnes. If you're a fan of the society that Regina Scott has created in her novels, you'll want to read this one. If you're new to her books and like unusual heroines, then you will want to read this book. Those expecting grand, sweeping passion look elsewhere.