What I Read This Weekend . . .
Wedding Day Kittens by Jo Ann Ferguson, Alice Holden, Melinda Beth Skinner -- Regency Romances
In "Something Old, Something New," the scapegrace Lord Milbury returns to his childhood home for his younger sister's wedding. He never expects to run into his childhood friend Charlotte Longmuir but when he rescues a small kitten, he is forced to notice his old friend has grown up. Miss Charlotte Longmuir lives with her children on a small farm outside the village. Because she chooses to raise three children without a husband, she has become the source of village gossip and scorn. The children are a part of her and her whole world. Lord Milbury remembers Charlotte as always being kind, caring and proper. He's certain those children are children of the heart rather than the body. He understands Charlotte in a way that no one else can but can she trust him? Lord Milbury sets out to show Charlotte just how much she and the children mean to him in order to win her trust and her heart. This story is very different from the usual Regency romance plots. The plot is rather unbelievable, especially given the short length but it's sweet. I liked the unconventional plot and the characters, especially Charlotte. I do not usually like children in romance novels but these three children are mostly in the background and not too sickly sweet. There's good chemistry between the heroine and hero. This story contains a little bit of sensuality but nothing more than looks and kisses.
"The Perfect Bride" by Alice Holden is more conventional. Viscount Glynden is an only child and promises his father he'll marry before his 27th birthday in June. He decides to find a demure young bride who will be content to do his bidding while he continues carousing in London. He decides that he will also take a mistress and has in mind the newest sensation upon the stage, Yvette LaRoche. When she sings, he feels she's singing just to him. However, he can't get near the girl. Yvette has a secret - she's really Lady Brianna Mansfield, a talented young debutante who is appearing on the stage for fun while her parents are away. She doesn't wish to scandalize her beloved grandparents or be the subject of ton gossip so she plans to quit her career as soon as her parents return. When she encounters Simon for the first time, she feels an instant connection. He's charming but she knows that he can only offer her, as Yvette, an improper proposal. Simon is determined to have her and nothing will stand in his way. Yvette is a very sweet sort of heroine. She's not impoverished, she's not a hoyden but she's not meek either. She's kind and caring, especially towards animals. I can't help but like her. I loathe Simon. He is a typical rake but his determination and his methods really made me angry and I do not feel the story is long enough for him to redeem himself. I recommend this story to those who love rakes no matter what.
"Up to Scratch" by Mary Beth Skinner is also an unusual story. When Mr. Maximilian Major and his feline companion Malachi return to England to the estate Max has inherited they are in for a huge surprise. A Miss Emmeline Rose and her cat Lady Moonbeam are occupying the glasshouse! Malachi and Moon know they are mates for life and feel that their humans are the same but humans are not as smart as cats and can not understand this. Max and Emma prepare the estate for a lavish ton wedding with intent to sell to one of the guests so Max can resume his travels and Emma can see something of the world. Emma has lived in the village as long as she can remember. It's as much a part of her and she is of it. She feels torn about leaving her only home yet this may be her last chance for adventure as she will be 30 on midwinter's day. Max feels increasingly drawn to his new home. He's never had a home before but traveling is who he is, it's in his blood. He couldn't put down roots now could he? Malachi and Moon know they have to take matters into their own paws in order for true love to persevere. This is my favorite story in the book.. I really liked and admired Emma for finding a way to be independent and for refusing to give up her rights and her plans. Max is a very unusual hero. He's not a rake, he's not a Lord, a soldier, or a penniless younger son. He's just a man without family or fortune living by his wits and his luck. Both Max and Emma have really fascinating back stories that add to their appeal. It's a bit strange reading from the cat's point-of-view at first but I liked seeing the romance unfold through the cats' eyes. There's the perfect amount of chemistry between the hero and heroine (aside from the instant cat connection) and the relationship develops at just the right pace. The romance is sweet (kisses only with one bit of insinuated touching) and just right for a fun read. There are a lot of funny moments especially towards the end that made this story even more appealing. This book was worth the $1.00 I paid for it at a used/rare bookshop.