Monday, September 7, 2020

What to Read While Social Distancing? : A Special Post 2

 Forget Me Not (The Gents #1)Forget Me Not by Sarah M. Eden-- Georgian Romance

Thank you to NetGalley and Covenant Communications for a free advanced copy of this book. Opinions stated in this review are entirely my own.

Katie Jackson's review on AustenProse is pretty much perfect, but I promised to review this book so here it goes:

After losing his siblings and childhood playmates, Lord Lucas Jonquil decides it's time to live his own life. He heads off to Brier Hill, his estate, to get settled and then he's off on adventures living life to the fullest. His little playmate, Julia Cummings, is heartbroken - again- at yet another loss. Her mother, twin sister and two childhood friends are already gone and her older brother is fighting against the rebels in America. When her best friend decides to up and leave without telling her, the loss seems unendurable. He promises he'll be back to visit soon but eight years go by without Julia ever seeing Lucas again. Now she's a young lady who prefers the quiet solitude of home, reading and studying to the childish romps and games they used to play. It's safer that way. Lucas has been off mountain climbing and having adventures, living life to the fullest. He can't wait to be off on his next trip. Lucas and Julia are both stunned when their parents publicly announce the old friends are to be wed in a week's time. This is news to the not-so-happy couple! Julia resents being forced into an unwanted marriage and Lucas feels trapped. Can these two make it work? It doesn't seem like it and they may need some divine intervention to help. Enter Lucas's best friends, known as "The Gents," a lively band of brothers who are determined to help fix their friend's broken relationship.

Normally I'm not a huge fan of marriage of convenience novels. They go on too long with too many misunderstandings and the couples never talk. This one is no exception and even after they work things out, it goes on too long. However, I was eager to read this after binge reading the Jonquils series all spring and summer. I adore this family and I really wanted to get to know Father. I really enjoyed that aspect of the book. The little "Easter Eggs" (nods) to the Jonquils series are wonderful.

Philip is the son who most takes after Lucas. Lucas, known as "Jester" to his friends, hides behind a mask of comedy. He jokes and pretends everything is OK even when it's not. He's cruel to Julia at times but also sweet, tender, loving and romantic. To be fair to Lucas, what teenage boy/young man tells his plans to a little girl? NONE! Not even if they're childhood friends. Maybe he assumed her father had told her or maybe he was waiting until the last minute to make parting less painful. We never really learn why he didn't tell her he was leaving except that he was thoughtless. Later on, he is thoughtless and doesn't talk to her about his plans. He never asks what her hopes and dreams are and doesn't try to figure out how their differences can be reconciled. He still cares about Julia but he doesn't consider her thoughts and feelings much.

Like the brothers, I assumed Mater and Father fell in love at first sight and were inseparable until death did them part. However, Mater hints that the Jonquil men, including their father, make idiots of themselves in front of the women they love. Lucas is no exception. .

Julia, too, bears some of the blame for their early marital problems. She behaved rather immaturely when she heard the news of their impending nuptials. Julia sounded younger than 2o but I attribute that to the fact she hasn't had a Season or been anywhere outside the village other than to visit cousins in Berkshire. Julia is grieving the loss of so many people she loves and putting up walls to protect herself is easier than dealing with the pain. I don't really blame her for that but she needs to tell Lucas. Julia doesn't have any empathy for Lucas's grief either. He lost his siblings and hers and most recently, her elder brother STANLEY, one of his best friends. She doesn't consider that his jetting off on adventures is a way to keep from being alone with his feelings.

I liked little Julia, the feisty hoyden, game for any adventure. She sounds like a lot of fun but like her twin, I prefer reading and playing with my dolls to crazy, dangerous stunts. Lucas's goal is to recapture that magic childhood and bring back HIS Julia. He should be getting to know her as an adult and find some common ground. He makes a bit of a beginning, which is very sweet, but it's not enough to make up for his casual dismissal of her. I have a soft spot for him though because even though he's a dunderhead when it comes to love and romance, he is fundamentally a nice young man. (Yet, after bearing him 7 sons I'd be like GO AWAY on one of your mountain climbing adventures PLEASE! Don't come back until after I'm too old to have babies or birth control is invented).

I really appreciate how smart Julia is. She is vastly intelligent and all self-taught. Her governess sounded narrow-minded and stupid. I love how Julia has a thirst for knowledge and isn't afraid to go after it. She's opinionated and makes her thoughts known at a time when women were supposed to be ornaments to Society. (Elizabeth Poldark, that vapid doll is an excellent example of a Georgian woman). It's easy to see why Philip is attracted to Sorrel because young Julia is very much like Sorrel, intelligent and prickly.

Lucas's friends are a lot of fun. I enjoyed meeting them and seeing Lucas from their points-of-view. First we meet Kester Barrington, aka "Grumpy Uncle." I don't think Kes is grumpy at all. He's an introvert by nature and cautious. Just because he's the voice of reason, doesn't mean he's grumpy. He's just not crazy! I like him a lot and can relate to him best of all. No mountain climbing for me, thanks! "The King" turns up next. Digby LAYTON is silly but he's used to getting his own way and what he wants is for his best friend to stop being a dunderhead. His rule is gentle and benevolent. He surely must be Philip's godfather and sartorial advisor because he acts like a fop. I suspect he isn't and I find that affectation annoying but Digby is fun and makes people smike. Lord Aldick Benick, younger son of the Duke of Hartley, is the strong, silent type. He seems imposing. "The General" has a keen mind and likes to use his brain to strategically plan things, in this case, how his best friend is going to win over his wife. Henri Fortier aka "The Archbishop" is the peacemaker of the group. He also seems a little bit silly. I think he must be the namesake and godfather of "Holy Harry" Jonquil. (Henry is also Lucas's middle name). Finally, Niles Greenberry doesn't say much but he's up for anything and I expect his loyalty has earned him the nickname "The Puppy." They love Lucas like a brother and accept Julia as a sister and want to help but sometimes their plans interfere with the romance and Lucas (and the reader) is frustrated!

It was also fun to meet the Jonquil boys' grandparents. "Flip" gets his wit from his Jonquil grandparents. They're very much in love and share a wacky sense of humor. They can make the weather sound funny and interesting. I really like them, arranged marriage notwithstanding. Not as charming is Julia's father, Lord Farland. He means well and probably wants to make sure Julia is taken care of before he dies like his wife and son but he did her a disservice. Julia has never been anywhere or met anyone. Her only childhood friends are dead or married and moved away. It's heartbreaking to see her withdraw into herself. First, he should have at least sent her to a Little Season or a season in Bath, mourning or not. She could have attended informal gatherings, made friends with other girls on the verge of coming out and met gentlemen. No dancing, of course, but at least she could go for a drive or a walk with a gentleman, provided she was suitably escorted. Then the arranged marriage wouldn't have been such a shock and so confining.

We also meet the Duke of Kielder as a little boy of 6 or 7 and his parents, the Duke and Duchess. This is a deeply unhappy family. The Duke is a homebody and his wife is always itching to travel with her gal pals. He could, legally, forbid her from leaving home, but I think he cares about her and doesn't want to do that. He's unhappy she doesn't like to stay home. Little Lord Folkstone is lonely. He's so serious for such a young lad. Julia's heart goes out to him.

There's also a brief cameo by Robert Finley, a rotter. He's the awful, annoying boy in the neighborhood. He apparently takes after his father. I assume the Mr. Finley in The Kiss of a Stranger and As You Are is his son. Robert isn't as bad as the present Mr. Finley.

I really want to see more of Lucas and Julia as parents to 7 mischievous young boys but at the same time, it will be heartbreaking! Knowing what happens made this one a little tough to read. Poor Julia! How she endured so much loss, I don't know.

My only real complaint other than the length is that other than the fashions and dances, the time period doesn't really stand out. I would have liked to see more specifics about Georgian etiquette. For example: what were the Georgian mourning customs? Were ladies allowed to show emotion? I would have also liked seeing Julia learning how to be a wife from an advice book. She does acknowledge the law of the day makes her belong to Lucas and that, to her, is a misery. I'm not sure he can dictate the terms of her title in her marriage settlement though. Wouldn't Parliament have to redo the patent formally? Is she only the Baroness of Farland because she's the only surviving child or does the title normally pass through the female line? That makes a big difference for the grandchildren. (The Heart of a Vicar)

I also want to comment on the book design. It's so beautiful! The blank pages between chapters are covered in a forget-me-not design which carries over to the margins of the first page in the chapter. It's pretty even in black and white. I really like that.

One last comment: My rating for Adobe Digital Editions 4.5.11? half a star! It kept freezing on me and I had to borrow an android tablet and download the NetGalley app just to read this book.

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