What I've Read This Week . . .
Waltz With A Rogue by Mona K. Gedney, Kathleen Baldwin and Lisa Noeli -- Regency Romance
This book of short stories contains three stories by well-known Regency authors. The first, The Highwayman Came Waltzing by Kathleen Baldwin, follows a very different plot line from the usual Regency story. It's loosely based on the poem "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes. In this story, Elizabeth Claegborn is the long suffering heroine, living with her aunt, grandmother and cousins on the estate of her cheapskate uncle. The family has a very unique way of earning money. When Elizabeth's childhood sweetheart Trace, Lord Ryerton returns from the wars, he's determined to find the highwaymen robbing his stepfather's guests and put a stop to those rogues once and for all. He also wants to rekindle the relationship with Elizabeth but she hides a terrible secret that could force her true love to choose between his duty and his heart. She's certain he'll choose duty but will he? This is the best of the three stories. It's well written and has a slightly Gothic air but is also funny and sweet at the same time. Elizabeth comes across as a bit of a Mary Sue but her big secret prevents her from actually being so bland. She and Trace have great chemistry. The story was suspenseful enough to really hold my interest though it bears little resemblance to the poem.
In The Rebel and the Rogue by Mona Gedney, Vivian Woodruff tries to avoid being married off to her odious stepfather's youngest brother. Her stepparents yell and threaten but Vivian will not give in. She will marry for love or not at all. When she encounters the dashing and dangerous Anthony Mallory, she decides to use some secret knowledge she has of him to blackmail him into helping her. Anthony is amused and intrigued by the young lady and can't believe the trap he's fallen into but he agreed to help after all, and maybe he's enjoying himself more than he ever has before. This is a predictable story about a hardened rake who meets his match in a naive young girl. The writing isn't bad but not as great as Georgette Heyer or some of the other authors who have tackled the same plot.
Dance with Me by Lisa Noeli features a Lord in disguise as a dancing master. Neville Dunsleigh knows he will find his bride when he dances with her, but all the ladies he meets are the same old boring fortune and title hunters. In disguise, he'll have the chance to meet his true love at last. He hadn't counted on his clients flirting with him or being fired because he refused to flirt back. He also didn't know just how painful it could be when a lady steps on his toes. When a chance encounter with a beautiful woman comes his way, he just knows she's the one. However, she disappears and makes it difficult for him to reach. Penelope Spencer also has a secret. She's the daughter of theater performers raised as a gentlewoman. She thinks she loves Neville but she isn't sure and will he love her if he finds out her secret? This is the lightest of the three stories. It's almost a fairy tale it's so unrealistic. It's sweet and charming and if you can overlook the rapid advancement of the romance and the unlikeliness of it all, you will enjoy it.