Saturday, March 18, 2017

What I Read in June 2016 Part VI. . .

What I Read in June 2016 Part VI. . . 

A Heart RevealedA Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack--Regency Romance

Amber Sterlington, the daughter of Viscount Merchant, is the reigning belle of the ton. So what if her sister was supposed to come out with her - her sister can take a back seat for all Amber cares. She aims to have a good time and carefully choose her husband based on who has the highest title and most money NOW. When her new maid Suzanne, discovers a secret about Amber that affects her beauty and her social standing, Amber is dismayed. After a retreating from the public temporarily to work out her problem, Amber emerges only to find her sister has taken her place and her suitor. A jealous moment leads to public humiliation and Amber is banished to the wilds of Yorkshire with only Suzanne for company. How will Amber ever survive? Thomas Richards, third son of a Baron and gentleman farmer has come to town from his farm in Yorkshire to seek a wife. He wants his wife to be intelligent and desirable -is that too much to ask? He sets his sights on the beautiful Amber Sterling, but she doesn't even know he exists. How can he get her out of his mind?

This story is sort of a fairy tale similar to Beauty and the Beast in reverse. In this story it's the female character who is vain, spoiled and selfish. It is she who turns into the beast character and has to learn a lesson while the hero becomes the selfless person who would do anything to help his loved ones. Despite a few historical inaccuracies and the almost fairy tale nature of the story, I enjoyed it. I had a really hard time putting it down. The hero and heroine don't really meet until 2/3 of the way through the story and the romance is pretty rushed after that but it's sweet and lovely. The hero is missing from a large chunk of the novel but when he reappears some of the story is told from his point-of-view, which is nice. It seemed like this might end up a Christian novel but it isn't. The characters attend church and Thomas believes in God's will and that's it except for a message of love and acceptance that will appeal to any reader.

The characters in this novel are well-drawn and realistic. At first Amber is spoiled, selfish, vain and a completely horrid, unlikable person. I hated to admit that I probably would have reacted the same way in her situation with Suzanne at that age. It takes time to grow up and Amber's character growth is excellent. My only major problem is that women commonly did wear hairpieces. Hair extensions are nothing new and due to poor diets people probably needed those false hair pieces but once the story got going and Amber's condition worsens, the story gets more believable. It takes a little too long to get there though. Amber's relationship with Suzanne reflects Amber's feelings about herself and shows how her character is growing, rather than telling the reader which I really liked. The same can be said with Suzanne. Suzanne is a bit too impertinent to be realistic but her relationship with Amber shows her true character and how she is also changed by Amber and their situation.

Thomas is a perfect gentleman. He's almost too good to be true. He doesn't exhibit the same kind of growth that Amber does. He's a kind and loving brother, uncle and caring friend. He loves poetry and Shakespeare, wants to work his own land and own his own land to pass down to future generations- what's not to love? Well, he's the third son and though his eldest brother is deceased, his second brother has an infant son, making Thomas unlikely to inherit; therefore, he is unworthy of Amber's attention. He's way too good for her. I wish the relationship hadn't been quite so rushed. The author could have cut out a lot of repetitive domestic scenes with Thomas to further the relationship more.

Overall, I enjoyed the book though and I think traditional/sweet Regency lovers will enjoy this one too. Young Adults should read this book as well. It has just enough period detail to set the scene but not enough to throw off first time Regency readers and the message is important. The romance is squeaky clean too.

Lord Fenton's FollyLord Fenton's Folly by Josi S. Kilpack

Lord Fenton has a perfectly maintained reputation as a London dandy. Though his style is close to being foppish, he's still considered god ton everywhere. Only his mother knows that his foppish demeanor is a careful facade designed to annoy his cold father and hide his true sensitive soul. When Lord Chariton threatens to disinherit his only son in favor of a cousin, Lord Fenton agrees to do anything to save his inheritance. He must agree to agree to a certain set of conditions, including marrying a suitable future Countess in 6 months time! Charles is reluctant to agree but he can not give up his inheritance. Society's belles have never interested him much; they're all as empty-headed as he pretends to be. Only Alice Stanbridge seems to have enough spunk to interest him, plus he knew her when she was a child and his mother adores her - problem solved! Alice is the youngest daughter and middle child of her family. Her mother died when Alice was born. She feels unloved. She's happiest when working in her garden- a garden Lord Fenton helped secure for her when she was 10 years old. She has adored him ever since and is thrilled at his marriage proposal. When she discovers Lord Fenton's true reason for marrying her, she resolves to harden her heart unless he can show her his true self. The two engage in a battle of wills determined to win at any cost but then there comes a time when Lord Fenton truly needs Alice. Does he have the courage to go through a great trial and open his heart to his bride?

This is not my favorite of the Proper Romance series so far. It was slow to begin with. The Foxcroft section improves the plot but it's full of predictable plot lines and the message is not heavy handed but almost a bit too strong. Though I did almost get teary eyed at the end. The ending is a bit rushed. I would like to know what happens with Alice and Charles after that.

I really did not like Lord Fenton for the majority of the book. He hides behind a foppish facade and alcohol to avoid his problems and emotions. He was kind to Amber and extended himself to try to help his old school friend Thomas in A Heart Revealed. I found him charming then but not in his own story. He is an alcoholic - not in danger of becoming a drunkard as he thinks. He is mean to Alice. In the last few chapters, as secrets are revealed and he goes through a great trial, his character improves. He learns why his parents are the way they are. He has to learn to trust Alice and trust himself to reveal his true self to her. He's a very sensitive man for all he plays the carefree fop. He feels very deeply and he fears feeling and facing his emotions. He's so determined NOT to be his father, he drives Alice away the same way Lord Chariton drove Lady Chariton away.

I really liked Alice. Her character growth is excellent. She is still a young girl in the beginning of the novel - 10 years old- and in danger of becoming a hoyden. All she wants is a place to belong. Later, when she's grown and "out", she's still a naive, young girl. She just wants to be loved. I liked how she could hold her own when Charles taunted her. Then as the story progresses, she learns the meaning of love and how to give it. She learns how to be a friend, a wife and an adult. The one thing I didn't like was her initial reaction to Adam and even Mrs. Gage. It's accurate but it's distasteful.

My favorite character is Lady Chariton. My heart broke for her as her secrets were revealed. She was always a loving mother no matter what. Her husband is, of course, my least favorite character. He's a bully and a cruel man. He chose to harden his heart so I really don't have sympathy for him.

I think Christian romance lovers will enjoy this story but you don't have to be Christian to like it. The moral is only mildly Christian. There isn't any overt preaching and only an occasional mention of God and the grace of God.

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