What I've Read This Week . . .
The Wicked Marquis by Marnie Ellingson -- Regency Romantic Fiction
Now impoverished after her Italian opera singer father's death, Esme Leonardo has come to live with her very English cousins. She s quickly charmed by her cousin Kit, but he sees her as just another little sister. Esme comes to love Kit like a brother and is determined to help him with whatever is bothering him. Kit's sister, Drusilla, Constance and Hope share the (in their mind) tragic story of Kit's ill-fated romance. Kit once engaged in a youthful passion for an unsuitable woman. Their uncle, on whom they are dependent, wants Kit to marry a neighbor, Lydia Milliman, a particularly awful girl who desires a title. Though Kit doesn't have a title yet, he is heir to his cousin, the Marquis of Locklynde who is known for his wild lifestyle. The Marquis has determined that Kit should marry Lydia without ever having met the girl or even really knowing Kit. Esme has already made an enemy of Lydia and Esme knows Kit and Lydia would not suit. Esme comes up with one crazy scheme after another, finally deciding to inform Lydia that she (Esme) is engaged to the Marquis. Complications arise when the Marquis comes to London and the ton learns to Esme and Jared's supposed engagement. The Marquis agrees to Esme's wild idea. The wicked Marquis takes an unusual interest in the plain-speaking Esme, who can't help but wonder about his motives. The premise of this book sounds a lot like Georgette Heyer's The Grand Sophy. Esme is similar to Sophy but not quite as outrageous. The plot is light and moves along quickly, providing a few chuckles along the way. There is a subplot involving Dru which is entirely predictable as is the primary romance plot. The witty dialogue doesn't quite sparkle like Heyer or Austen but it's fun and funny. I really liked this book though it was not at the level of Heyer. It's a nice, pleasant read for fans of the genre.
The Little Balloonist by Linda Donn -- Adult Historical Fiction