Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What I Read in February 2015 Part I

What I Read in February 2015 Part I . . .

A Husband for Miss Trent by Anne Gallagher -- Regency romance/short story

A Husband for Miss Trent
Miss Ophelia Trent is nearly 30 and on the shelf. She tried to help her family by answering an ad for a wife for a reluctant viscount but he changed his mind. Now she has received an invitation to a London ball and isn't sure she should accept. Her mother arranges for Opehlia to stay with a cousin in St. John's Woods and an old dress of her mother's will serve as a gown. While shopping for new clothes, Ophelia has a series of mishaps in which she's rescued by a Mr. Merritt. Mr. Merritt smells of dogs and horses and is obviously a working man and not in Ophelia's class at all, which is a pity because he's so kind. The ball is fun and Ophelia even finds herself a suitor, but her heart is torn. Should she marry to help her family or should she wait for true love?

This is a short but sweet story along the lines of Cinderella minus the wicked relatives. Ophelia is nearly middle aged for the Regency period so I doubt she'd be invited to any balls, let alone find someone who wanted to marry her on their first meeting.

I liked Ophelia well enough. She's sweet and kind and all that's boring and good about a 19th century woman but she knows her heart and she's attracted to Mr. Merritt for the right reasons. I really liked Mr. Merritt. He's also kind and good and he's a war hero. There's not enough plot here to really flesh out the characters. There's a Mr. Darcy type who appears late in the story and he seems randomly dropped in there. There's not much to say about this story but if you like fairy tales and happy endings, read this story.

Candle's Christmas Chair by Jude Knight -- Regency romance short story

Candle's Christmas Chair
Randall "Candle", Lord Avery, returns from the war when his father is killed in an accident and his mother crippled. He wants to get his mother a special invalid chair so she can have more freedom. He goes to Bath to the most well-respeced chair maker around, who just so happens to be his lost love Miss Minerva Bradshaw. She's just as lovely as ever and Candle thinks it's a pity she just wasn't that into him. Min has spent the last several years running her own chair making business - an offshoot of her family's carriage business. She loves her work and takes pride in a job well done. Candle drives a hard bargain and she must be thrown into company with him again. When misunderstandings are finally cleared up, Candle is determined not to let Min get away this time.

This book is an odd mix of contemporary and Regency references. It supposedly takes place in 1805 and the Battle of Trafalger is mentioned, but yet the misunderstanding is a very modern one and the heroine takes tea in the tea room at the Roman Baths. What? The Roman Baths haven't been uncovered yet in 1805! She might parade around the Pump Room and take the waters but no tea room and no Roman Baths. The Austens are thankfully not in the story but we know that Bath was filled with pretentious posturing people and invalids at that time - not fashionable Society. Poor research is an automatic negative star from me. The story is clean but not exactly kisses only. There are far too frequent mentions of anatomy and implied love making at the end (married couple).

Min is a strong female character. She knows what she wants - to have a rewarding career. How very modern of her! Her chairs mean everything to her and she prides herself in a job well done. She's in Trade and knows she'll never fit in with Society. I didn't really like her for all that because she gives in to the hero's pestering and gives in to her baser feelings.  Candle in an awful hero. He doesn't back down and goes after what he wants with gusto. Some might think his attentions sweet but I found them annoying and over the top. He thinks with his anatomy far too frequently. Sure he is kind and caring and he's nearly an innocent but I found him irritating and would have sent him and his flowers to the rightabout.

This story was free on Amazon and I'm glad because I don't have any interest in reading it again. 

His Heart's Delight (The Braedon Family Series Book 1)His Heart's Delight by Mary Blayney-- Regency Romance

When Morgan Braedon's mama died the light went out of his life. When his little sister died because of him, he locked up his heart tight so he would never feel that heartache ever again. When his irascible Papa falls ill and demands Morgan marry by the end of the year, Morgan balks at the mandate. He has his own plan in mind and marriage can wait. Christiana Lambert comes to London with her older sister Joanna for the season. While Joanna is searching for her true love, Christiana wants nothing more than a nice escort to squire her around until the end of the Season when her engagement to her neighbor Richard Wilton can be announced. Richard is currently in Portugal serving under Wellesley and Christiana is prepared to follow the drum. In the meantime, she intends to enjoy herself in London. When the Dowager Duchess of Halston takes a liking to Christiana, she finds herself thrown together with the Dowager's grandson. Morgan is prepared to humor his grandmother, enjoy a little innocent flirtation with her little minx of a protegee and nothing more. Morgan thinks he has it all under control even with his older brother James breathing down his neck. He appreciates his grandmother's intentions but he won't allow himself to fall in love. Christiana is more than fine with that. Her faux courtship with Morgan will solve both their problems - or will it complicate matters? Can men and women really be friends?

Despite the question asked, this is not When Harry Met Sally. This is much darker, deeper and emotional than anywhere Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer ventured. The prologue alone made me cry. The rest is an emotional roller coaster. The writing is excellent. It's modern sounding but not too modern. The author writes in a style all her own. The plot moves quickly and the growing relationship develops at a beautiful pace. The misunderstanding is more of an internal issue which allows for more character growth.

The character growth for both the hero and heroine is excellent. Morgan has to learn to let go of past demons and learn to love again. My only quibble is that no one ever tells him Maddie's death wasn't his fault or helped him move past the guilt. He does mature and grow though so I liked his development. He's a good wounded hero. He has a lot of depth and is very human which made me like him more than I would have if he were merely a younger son/rake/wastrel etc. He really needs someone to have his back and love him unconditionally. I really liked Christiana too. She's an Elizabeth Bennet type or even a young Jane Austen at first. She's very innocent and charming. I liked her sense of humor and how she was always herself no matter what. She has some growing up to do in matters of the heart and her story moved forward to a logical conclusion nicely as she grows and realizes the truth. I felt bad for her though about her first love and what happened.

The secondary characters are just as well-drawn as the main characters. I love the Dowager Duchess, scheming and matchmaking because she knows her grandson better than he knows himself. Joanna is a lovely older sister in the model of Jane Bennet. Being the big sister myself, I love that she's wise and serious like Elinor Dashwood. I also really liked that she has hopes and dreams of her own that she shares with her sister. Their relationship is very touching. Joanna's love interest is unusual and a funny match for a romantic novel but she explains her reasons for choosing him and I really liked those reasons and foresee a happily ever after. This man has more depth than the usual secondary character suitor and I liked getting to know him. James Braedon is a bit of a mystery. There's a backstory that is not fully explained and his role is limited in this novel.

The romance is clean. There is some kissing with tongues, wandering hands and a little bit of lust but it's all kept controlled and within the limits of a traditional clean Regency. There is the usual talk of mistresses, lovemaking and brandy drinking but nothing major.

I really enjoyed this novel. It was free to download from Smashwords. I'm not sure I want to read the rest of the series. This poor family really puts the reader through the wringer.

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