Thursday, 26 January 2017

A Sweet Regency.

Reviewed by Charlotte

The book’s premise-

After a disappointing season in London, Sophie Davenport returns home without a marriage proposal. No sooner does she settle back into her country life than she learns her uncle has arranged for her to marry the local vicar’s son, a respectable and utterly forgettable man. He’s returning home immediately after the Christmas holiday and they will wed. She sets about making this last Christmas with just she and her mother memorable.

Jeremy Wyatt hatches a plan to help his friend Thomas and his love, Emma, escape to Gretna Green and marry before her father comes after them. What he’s really doing is avoiding heading to his parents’ home, where he is the son who is always making the wrong choices. But their carriage becomes hopelessly mired in the mud from the incessant rains so Jeremy sets off to find shelter for them at the first house he comes to.

Sophie welcomes the wet and weary travelers, and her mother agrees to house them temporarily until they can free the carriage. Sophie forms a bond not only with Emma, but with Jeremy. However despite the sparks they ignite in each other, they have to maintain their separate paths.

But love and mistletoe have a way of upsetting even the best-laid plans.


My Review-

It was interesting to learn from Ms Lower’s profile at Amazon she has written a series of novels with American settings and themes, and how Regency Yuletide is her first English Regency romance. 

What I liked best about this sweet novella was the way the author threw London’s seasoned soirĂ©es out of the carriage window. Instead a bleak Cumbrian landscape is where the heroine’s story opens the door on her life. It was a nice change to meet a heroine who cringed in expectation of a forced second season of attendance at soirees in the City of London. And thank goodness Ms Lower avoided a popular and ludicrous plot of young suitors on wild chargers in Hyde Park in pursuit of rebellious heroines. Wise move Ms Lower to steer away from that old trope, and her version of an elopement plot has a refreshing twist to it as well. Poor Sophie is a country girl at heart, and destined as wife to the local vicar’s son. I say poor Sophie because I was rooting for excitement to explode into her life. And Sophie’s dismal prospects then turn for the better when a young man rocks up on her doorstep asking for help. Enter the hero Jeremy who has two companions stranded in a coach and its bogged down in mud and snow. Better still it’s Christmas and with a runaway couple heading for Gretna Green a cottage in the middle of nowhere is suddenly a godsend. And within a short while and seasonal charity Sophie’s little haven of tranquillity becomes a hotbed of lusty dreams, joyous cheer, and budding romance. Oh what a lovely time is had by all. But all good things must come to an end and it does. Poor Sophie is left pondering what if? And after a little heartache and soul searching that what if comes full circle and Sophie has her happy ending. I did like this story very much. It’s simple. It’s sweet. It’s a charming yuletide tale. Well done Ms Lower. Cumbria is a bleak place.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

A Georgian/Regency Romance

Reviewed by Francine:

This is a well-researched novel spanning the years 1803-1814-1815, thus it begins two years previous to the Battle of Trafalgar, and ending in the year the Napoleonic Wars finally draw to a close with the Battle of Waterloo.

Whilst this novel is a rather poignant tale of tragic loss, of hope, and that of a devastating truth, which in itself reveals the secret life of the heroine’s husband, there is more, so much more. For despite the heroine’s self-esteem is shattered in the face of shocking revelations, the courageous fortitude Olivia (heroine) portrays perfectly falls under the title The Murmur of Masks, as does a moment in time that awakens and arouses a sensual side Olivia has never known.

Whilst the novel remains true to the social mores and overt formal etiquette for widows during this period, Olivia nonetheless discovers essence of love, quite unexpectedly, and sadly cannot truly embrace it. Not only is there element of doubt it is true love, she has obligations besides that of herself to consider, thus one reckless indulgence, though memorable, remains but a treasured secret. The hero, likewise, has had to face disappointments along life’s path, until the day he is deemed fit enough to purchase a commission in the army, but Napoleon’s escape from Elba sets precedence for his putting a brave foot forward, commission or no commission. Here the more gritty elements of war surface, thus touching letters betwixt Olivia and Luke Fitzmaurice keep Olivia and the reader abreast of events as they unfold in the hours prior to the great battle. After the event the trauma of it all has taken its toll, and of course there is a Happy Ever After. 

Throughout this novel the author seamlessly weaves historical facts into the tapestry of Olivia and Luke’s individual stories, by using history as a natural backdrop to the lives of her characters instead of displaying personal research as narrative infill. A lovely, lovely story. 


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Latest Regency Review

Reviewed by Nigella.

To Tempt a Viscount by Naomi Broom

The book blurb -

Lady Laura Rosing knows two things: first, she will marry for love, and second, she detests rakes. When she meets Lord Gavin Farris, she understands immediately that he fails both her criteria, and worse yet, he is an absolute cad who refuses to leave her be.

Lord Farris has always appreciated women and cannot understand why Lady Laura is so resistant to his charms. While pretty, she is not his usual type, but something about her intrigues him. Much to his chagrin, he finds himself desperately in love with her, but he may be too late. His adamant refusal to marry just might have planted her firmly in the arms of another.


Nigella’s Review –

When debut historical novels come my way I expect to encounter the occasional gaffe and allowances have to be made for new and aspiring authors of historical romances. It is a given periods of history require a tedious amount of research, and onus lies very much in the hands of the author to provide a time setting. Sadly nothing inside this book relates to the Regency era and what is more, a heroine of supposed good breeding daring to spout ‘bloody hell’ not once, but several times simply does the author no favours.

Quote: Just then the carriage hit a bump, and Laura could not help the words that issued forth. “Bloody hell.” Covering her mouth, she grimaced. She was not supposed to know such words, but she liked to read, and certain things were unavoidable in the good books.

Here is where the reader begins to ponder precisely in which era the heroine Laura, is cavorting. A good book [novel] for a young lady during the Regency era would be genteel prose, ie; Jane Austen and Ann Radcliffe were contemporary novelists of Laura’s time. In addition to the heroine’s young years, torches beneath the bed covers for reading crude books were not available in the Regency era. Laura would for a greater part of her reading time be in full view of other members of her family. It is also abundantly clear she has an aunt for a chaperone. Would that aunt condone the reading of unsuitable novels? Another thing that struck me as odd was the lack of richly embellished Regency settings. This novel has no time scale, nothing to reflect this particular period in history. 

Setting to one side qualms as stated above the story itself is a sweet romance, and to a great extent, a farcical comic romp. Conflict between the hero and heroine is the overriding theme from start to finish involving misunderstandings and peevishly annoying incidents. Laura is constantly at odds with Farris and Laura’s irrational behaviour and Farris’s dull-wittedness strays to realms of romantic insanity. However the fact they will fall in love is a certainty. There are touchingly romantic scenes in which Farris shines through as a hero should, and every single time Laura resorts to slightly ridiculous reasons to be rude and unladylike. Laura is plain rude and unlikeable at the start and while it is hoped she will moderate her rudeness, warming to Laura as a historical heroine is not easy. She fails utterly as the epitome of a lady of good birth, a young lady with an additional rebel persona who would endear a reader to her side. I really did not like Laura at all. There are a good many characters who hang out with Laura, Some are more interesting than others. Some I felt needed a little more fleshing. They lacked sparkle and personality, and whether the author intended for her heroine to appear as a modern miss lacking in affability and therefore appeal to a YA readership is impossible to tell. I think readers who prefer uncomplicated plots and extreme conflict will go a bundle on this novel.