What I Read This Weekend . . .
Mayhem and Miranda by Carola Dunn -- Regency Romance
Miranda Carmichael is a companion to the eccentric Lady Wiston, who hires her servants from the street and frequently dons Cossack trousers and does yoga. Miranda loves Lady Wiston but she is not fond of her employer's Pug dog who causes her to stumble in the park wherein she trips over a man lying in the grass. Upon waking to rescue Miranda from harm, the man proceeds to kiss her! Miranda is outraged but her anger quickly turns to sympathy as Mudge the Pug bites the man. Peter Daviot is a self-proclaimed adventurer returned to London from years abroad in America. He is enchanted by the beautiful, level-headed companion and pleased to discover that she works for his aunt whom he has come to London to sponge off. As Peter sets out to put his adventures on paper he comes to rely on Miranda for feedback and advice. When Lady Wiston's late husband's nephew Lord Snell comes to stay, Peter instantly distrusts the pompous, arrogant man and is angered by the fact that Miranda seems to admire him. When Peter's instincts prove correct, he lets his pride get in the way which may spell disaster for those he holds dear. This is another excellent novel by one of the best of the Regency comedy writers. I enjoyed the main characters immensely, especially Lady Wiston whose eccentricities made me giggle. I especially liked how the relationship between the hero and heroine develops. Their romance begins with mutual respect and then friendship and love for Lady Wiston. The hero is refreshing, being neither a rake nor a Corinthian. He's very different and very charming. The plot kept me reading late. I couldn't figure out an easy and happy solution. I was satisfied by the ending, though I think it was a bit rushed and did not really make a lot of sense but it was fun anyway. I recommend this to lovers of Georgette Heyer and the Zebra and Signet paperback Regencies. I was excited to find this book in a used bookshop and though it's not a keeper, it's definitely worth reading a second time.
Lydia or Love in Town by Clare Darcy -- Regency Romance
Kit, Viscount Northover returns to England after the war to take up his title and his country seat Great Hayland only to discover his house is occupied by people unknown to him! Lydia Leyland, her brother and her grandmother have come to Grandmama's native England from their home in New Orleans to try to repair the family fortunes. Lydia declares to Northover that she's going to marry a fortune no matter who or what tries to stand in her way. She'll do whatever it takes to rescue her family from ruin. Northover, amused by the outspoken young American, introduces the Leylands to the ton where Lydia quickly finds herself the object of attention. Her brother hopes to inherit his great-aunt's husband's fortune but Sir Basil's first wife's nephew, Mr. Pentony, also has designs on the fortune and he will stop at nothing to get it. Lydia has her hands full trying to keep her relatives out of trouble and avoid the nasty Mr. Pentony and the odiously rude Northover. Desperate to prove to Northover she can and will marry a fortune, she sets about to find more suitors causing mayhem and mischief wherever she goes. This is a traditional Clare Darcy novel written in the tradition of Georgette Heyer. It does not copy one of Heyer's plots though Lydia is a bit reminiscent of Sophy in The Grand Sophy. I really liked Lydia though at times she was a bit cold and unlikeable and other times was completely crazy. I felt bad for her that she was the only sensible member of the family. Her antics made me giggle. The romance hardly develops at all. Most of the interactions between the hero and heroine consist of arguments which conclude in Lydia running off. We're supposed to assume they fall in love based on mutual admiration of spirited personalities. The middle drags out a lot before picking up with a hackneyed plot towards the end and culminating in a slightly rushed romantic scene. Even though it is not the best Clare Darcy novel I enjoyed it.
An Object of Charity by Carla Kelly (in Homespun Regency Christmas) -- Regency Romance
Captain Michael Lynch returns to shore after the devastating loss of his first mate and his beloved ship. He's at shore emotionally, not knowing what will happen to him. When the orphaned niece and nephew of his first mate come seeking news of their uncle, Captain Lynch abruptly turns them away. Then realizing they have nowhere to go, he invites them home to his mother's house for Christmas - a place he has not been in 22 years. With the help of the lovely, spirited Sally Partlow, Captain Lynch learns to open his heart. This story is low on plot and big on dialogue which makes it a tad bit slow. The characters are a bit hard to relate to. Captain Lynch is a hard man and Sally is too beautiful, too kind and too selfless. The message is extremely heavy handed and very moral in tone. I know it's a Christmas story but it was a bit much for me. I did not have time to read the other stories in the anthology.