What I've Read This Week . . .
Return to Cheyne Spa by Daisy Vivian -- Regency Romance
Miss Elinor Hardy is down on her luck. Her gamester father died with massive debts leaving Elinor to fend for herself as a hostess as Lady Blessingstoke's gaming hell. When Elinor is fired, she is taken up by Lady Augusta, the Duchess of Towans who wants to set Elinor up as a rival to the Duchess's spoiled niece Lady Barbara. Lady Barbara has two young suitors whom she's been keeping on a hook for a long time. Ben Weymouth is handsome, wealthy and urbane. He takes a liking to Elinor, making Lady Barbara jealous. Lady Towans would rather that Trevor Quenton, a penniless younger son, dangle after Elinor but otherwise the plan is going quite well. The plan is going well until Barbara discovers the handsome Irish actor Patrick Tyrone and decides to become a patron of the arts. Elinor becomes the darling of Cheyne Spa and even Tyger Dobbyn, the gentleman pugilist turned gamester takes an interest in her. The only person who is unhappy with Elinor's appearance in Cheyne Spa is her cousin Cecil, the hair to the Earl of Glastonia. The Earl learns that his long-lost granddaughter has come to town and he must decide what he wants to do about it. The plot of this book goes nowhere. The ending is very rushed and the romance is almost a non-romance. I liked Elinor and her stubborn, independent pride. I do not know what I would have done in her situation. I did not like the gentleman Elinor chose in the end. I did not find his character very appealing. I preferred another suitor. I felt like the Duchess took advantage of Elinor and would have dropped her had the plan not succeeded. This is not the best book in the series. It borrows a bit from Georgette Heyer's An Infamous Army. I hoped for more about characters from the previous novels but there was only one brief mention of Gavin.
Cassy by Elizabeth Lyle -- Regency Romance
Lucasta Loring's parents have recently died in an accident, leaving Cassy, her two younger sisters and their aunt to live in genteel poverty. Cassy's mother and aunt's childhood friend, now the Marchioness of Allingham, learns of the accident and asks her son to offer for Lucasta. Julian, the Marquess is bored by society beauties and doesn't remember meeting Lucasta at Almacks, but he understands the need to secure the succession so he dutifully offers for Lucasta - only to be soundly rejected! Lucasta refuses to even see Allingham. She has another plan in mind - to become an actress. Known as Cassandra on stage, Cassy becomes the latest sensation. All the young bucks want to know her but she remains aloof, chaperoned by former servants and friends. Cassy makes the acquaintance of Lord Allingham and his younger cousin Thomas. When it becomes clear that Cassy will not accept any improper attentions, the men offer friendship instead. Cassy lives a double life performing on stage as Cassandra and visiting her family as herself. She makes friends among the theater folk but somehow has made an enemy of someone who does not wish her will. Meanwhile, the Marquess enjoys the company of Cassy's younger sisters and spoils them with attention. On one visit to the young Lorings, Allingham brings a friend, Marcus, and soon Aunt Letty becomes involved in a romance of her own. Allingham becomes a rock Cassy can lean on in tough times and if she's not careful, she may succumb to temptation and give in to the secret desires of her heart. Before she can solve her romantic difficulties, Napoleon intervenes. God and Napoleon willing, Cassy's story will have a happy ending. This Regency novel is in the tradition of Georgette Heyer. It seems very well researched and full of wonderful period details. Some important parts are a bit too summarized and slow and some of the dramatic moments are resolved too quickly. Mostly the story flows well. The romance builds well and Allingham is an easy hero to love, for all he is a noted rake. Cassy and Julian have good chemistry without being too intense. The older couple's romance is very sweet. The Waterloo scene is mercifully short, unlike Georgette Heyer's Infamous Army. There are moments of humor to lighten the mood too. I really enjoyed this book and was happy to discover an unknown Regency romance in the library.