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Regency Reviews - Regencies rated Good


Sir Ranulf & the Runaway
by
Audrey Blanshard
Fawcett, 1979
ISBN: 0-449-50081-0

Reviewed 09/01/01

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Audrey Blanshard

Sir Ranulf and the Runaway

by Audrey Blanshard


Rating: good

    A long-standing family feud has kept the de Hyville sisters from making the acquaintance of their neighbor, Sir Ranulf Thrinby. The elder sister, Isabella, once saw Sir Ranulf and received a smile from him that threw her into confusion and gave her the curious desire to see him again. One day she and her sister Bianca climb a belvedere to look out over the neighboring estate and are startled to hear screams coming from Thrinby Hall. Later, when Bianca encounters a small boy who claims to have fled the Hall from abusive captors, she begins to suspect that her neighbor harbors a sinister secret and spirits the boy away to safety. Both Isabella and Sir Ranulf give chase and encounter one another on the road.

    This story has a promising beginning. Both Isabella and Bianca are likable, distinctive characters. Bianca is a tender-hearted soul who wants to help every stray that crosses her path. Isabella is more practical, and gently tries to steer her sister in the right direction by advising her not to take all the world's injustices to heart but to do whatever is in her power to alleviate another's suffering. But this advice backfires when Bianca takes it upon herself to "rescue" the boy. Her efforts are quite amusing, as she sets out with the boy on horseback full of good intentions but soon becomes tired and bedraggled plodding along the road in the hot weather and realizes she may not have thought things out very well. Bianca's further trials include a complete ignorance of the use of money, a pair of postboys who take advantage of her naiveté, and a quarantine that prevents her from delivering the boy to her intended haven. By the time Isabella and Sir Ranulf got into the act, I was prepared for a merry chase during which the pair would argue and, naturally, fall in love. 

    Unfortunately, this did not happen. Isabella and Sir Ranulf do exchange a few heated words, but then they almost immediately encounter Bianca returning in a postchaise without the boy. Sir Ranulf sends the ladies home and sets out alone to find his troublesome ward. There follows a long interlude during which Sir Ranulf's intended bride, Helen Rishworth, unexpectedly arrives from London. This went on for so long that I began to wonder whether Sir Ranulf would end up with Miss Rishworth after all, though it was obvious from her character that she was to be set up with the de Hyville sisters' scholarly brother. Finally, Sir Ranulf pays a call at the de Hyville estate and smoothes relations with Isabella's father, earning him an invitation to a moonlight picnic during which he and Isabella decide they are in love.

    This is an enjoyable read. Audrey Blanshard has an engaging style and is skilled at the type of light wit suited to the Regency genre. There are many wonderful moments such as Bianca's escapades, the boy's tendency to howl like a banshee, and the de Hyville father's obsession with building follies all over his estate. The characters are well-drawn and entertaining, including the boy who is a scamp but not overly obnoxious. The only thing missing was a romance: Isabella and Sir Ranulf never fall in love. And that, after all, is the essence of a romance novel.

 

The Notorious Widow
by
Judy Christenberry
Pageant, 1988
ISBN: 0-517-00838-6

Reviewed 09/05/02

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Judy Christenberry
aka
Judith Stafford

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Mystery & Intrigue

The Notorious Widow

by Judy Christenberry


Rating: good

    Newgate Prison is no place for a lady. But that is where Mrs. Allison Montgomery finds herself, awaiting hanging for the murder of her husband of just one month.  Everything had happened so quickly. First her father, a Cit hoping for entree into the ton, announced that she was to marry Mr. Edward Montgomery. She was taken directly to a church where she met her intended husband for the first time. After the ceremony, her new husband told her that he had married her for her money and wanted no part of her. Allison remained a virtual prisoner in his townhouse until the night she found him dead.

    John Montgomery, Earl of Norwich, was abroad when he received word of his brother's death. He did not even know of his brother's marriage, but when he learns that Edward's widow is languishing in prison he acts quickly to have her released into his custody. Norwich has no illusions about his brother's character, and when he meets the gentle, soft-spoken young widow he doubts that she killed him though she surely had cause. It is more likely that Edward was killed by one of the unsavory characters he called friends. Norwich determines to uncover the truth and clear Allison's name.

   The story proceeds in a fast-paced, if not particularly suspenseful, manner. The mystery is solved almost immediately: There are only two suspects and they are in cahoots. Norwich's investigative technique mainly involves squiring about the female suspect while Allison frets that he thinks the villainess is prettier than she is -- rather peculiar priorities for someone facing a hanging! Nevertheless she shows a fair amount of pluck and concocts a plan to expose the killers under the kind auspices of Lady Jersey. She even manages to escape on her own when she is abducted at gunpoint. As for Norwich, Allison has nothing to fear for he is immune to the murderess's blowsy charms and remains steadfastly devoted to his sister-in-law. There is also a nice secondary romance between Norwich's man of affairs and a lady's maid who was imprisoned in Newgate for theft.

     This is an enjoyable first Regency from Judy Christenberry (aka Judith Stafford), who now writes contemporary category romance. She shows a nice grasp of the Regency style and period. The Newgate Prison scenes are particularly interesting and unusual. One noteworthy error is a common one among Regency authors: Gentlemen could not marry their sisters-in-law. However, Allison's first marriage was highly irregular and never consummated, so perhaps one can assume it was annulled. That aside, anyone looking for a light romance with a touch of intrigue would do well to give this a try.

 

The Infamous Rake
by
Norma Lee Clark
Signet, February 1990
ISBN: 0-451-16403-2

Reviewed 11/04/01

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Norma Lee Clark

The Infamous Rake

by Norma Lee Clark


Rating: good

    When 9-year-old Dilys Bryn learns that the aunt and uncle who raised her have drowned, the only person who comforts her is her dashing older cousin, Lord Travis Gallant, who allows her to weep into his neckcloth. Where before she had found Lord Travis fascinating, Dilys now falls head over heels in love with him. She follows his scandalous career and at the age of 15 she writes a novel titled The Story of a Rake based on his life. Several years later, the opportunity to publish her novel arises and she accepts, thinking that she will soon have to support herself. But not long afterwards, her cousin Georgeanne returns from India and offers to bring her out, and Dilys soon finds herself moving in the same circles as Lord Travis.

    As a teenager, Lord Travis was spurned by Georgeanne and as a result he has since devoted himself to a life of empty pleasures. He has only a vague memory of his gawky younger cousin Dilys and is surprised by the lovely and enchanting woman she has become. He finds himself attending dull entertainments in hopes of seeing her and soon realizes that he has completely forgotten his youthful attachment to Georgeanne. The path seems clear for a blossoming romance until the publication of The Story of a Rake threatens to nip it in the bud.

    Throughout the novel, Dilys develops from an infatuated young girl into a mature woman in love. The diary entries that open each chapter are a nice touch that give an added dimension to her character. Lord Travis, on the other hand, is a bit of a nonentity. His reason for turning to a life of debauchery is rather mundane and his rakish past is presented as a given but never described in any detail; his only dalliance is a strange, completely platonic interlude with a naive country girl being manipulated by her ambitious mama. As an infamous rake, Travis something of a disappointment, but as a romance hero he improves quite a bit. His emerging feelings for Dilys come as a nice surprise to him and to Dilys as well, and the reader is treated to an enjoyable romance.

 

Diana Delmore

Cassandra

Rating: good

The Earl of Ashbourne is surprised to find that an old obligation has left him the guardian of a young lady whose father [died on the Continent during the war.] Determined to do his duty, the Earl plans to launch her into Society and find her a suitable husband with the help of his fiancee. But Miss Cassandra Mowbray is not the demure girl he expects; she is a confident, independent woman used to the hardships of army life and she has no used for the frivolities and entertainments of the ton.

Cassandra agrees to a Season, though she intends to wed Captain ??, an officer [in her father's regiment.]When she meets an ex-soldier [sweeping the street,] Cassandra learns that wounded soldiers receive a pension of only ??? while others receive nothing at all. Horrified at this cavalier treatment of the men who served their country, Cassandra barges into the office of the Duke of York ?? and demands reform. There she is surprised to find the Earl of Ashbourne, who whisks her out of the Duke's office and determines to make his ward behave for the rest of the Season. 

This is a pleasant read. The depiction of London Society and its entertainments are vivid and the contrast with the plight of former soldiers and the poor is starkly portrayed. The heroine is a well-drawn character and she manages to be strong and outspoken without being foolish or petulant. 

Nevertheless, the story seems like a missed opportunity. We are presented with a heroine with an unusual background, and yet after her initial zeal on behalf of the ex-soldier, nothing much comes of it. Instead, she proceeds to get into the same kind of scrape that your average country miss might during her first Season: she dresses as a man to go to a gambling den, she dares to speak to the Earl's mistress; she helps a poor family by bringing boxes and boxes of goods to their home in the slums. (I imagined thieves breaking down the door the moment she left!) 

The main problem, however, was the lack of a romantic spark between the hero and heroine. The Earl remains an enigma so that we don't really know what it is that attracts him to this unusual lady. He simply declares himself at the end and that is that. It is this lack of a true romance that keeps this good book from being a truly satisfying one.
 

Reckless Masquerade
by
Rachelle Edwards
Hale, 1975
Reissued by Fawcett, 1975
ISBN (Fawcett): 0-449-23302-2

Reviewed 5/7/01

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Rachelle Edwards

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Amnesia

Reckless Masquerade

by Rachelle Edwards


Rating: good

    After a fall from a carriage, Lucinda awakens in an elegant boudoir with no recollection of who she is. She is told that she is the Countess of Glenbrooke, but when the man who is supposedly her husband appears he is strangely distant. Lucinda cannot understand his demeanor nor why she would have married a man who did not love her. As the days pass and she comes to know him better, however, she begins to foster hope that their marriage can succeed. Until, that is, she learns that their marriage is only a sham concocted by the earl's flighty mother to trick a wealthy uncle whose will stipulates that the earl must marry by his thirtieth birthday.

    This is a somewhat silly but entertaining story. The ruse is a bit far-fetched, but Edwards wisely chose to make it a white lie that got out of hand rather than a nefarious plot. The earl's mother hopes to maintain the charade both to get the much-needed money and to avoid being shown up as a fool. The earl reluctantly cooperates but frets about the effect on Lucinda once the truth comes out; he frequently wants to tell her but for the sake of the storyline he must be prevented from doing so at all costs! When she first wakes up, Lucinda affects die-away airs reminiscent of a Barbara Cartland heroine, but she soon bucks up a bit and even eventually figures out on her own that a rival for her affections has his own agenda. The saving grace of this story is the fact the romance is actually developed quite nicely in the scenes when the hero and heroine spend time together; the hero in particular makes good progress in this area.

    Rachelle Edwards is a talented author of numerous Regencies of which this is one of the earliest. While I recommend this as a light, enjoyable story, discerning readers may want to try some of her later works such as Lady of Quality and the excellent and very amusing Bath Revels.

 

The Wary Spinster
by 
April Kihlstrom
Signet, August 1983
ISBN: 0-451-12447-2
Reissued February 1988
ISBN: 0-451-15190-9

Reviewed 3/20/01

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April Kihlstrom

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Set in Bath

The Wary Spinster

by April Kihlstrom


Rating: good

    Anthea Marwood has avoided placing herself in the power of any man since her abusive father's death. When she learns that her niece Calandra is to be married off to a lord who enjoys frightening young girls, Anthea acts quickly to remove Calandra to the safety of her house in Bath.

    En route they stop at an inn where they encounter Viscount Radbourne. He is keeping an assignation, and when he sees Anthea's rich red hair he mistakes her for his mistress and draws her into an embrace. Anthea treats him coolly yet he perceives she is not indifferent to him, so he decides to follow her to Bath.

    This is an enjoyable read. The writing quality is quite good and the story, though fairly standard, is well paced and well executed. I expected it to end with a cliched abduction when Calandra's lecherous suitor showed up, but in fact there is a twist that makes this one of the best scenes in the book.

    Anthea is an interesting character. She has been physically and possibly sexually abused, but she emerged from her terrible experiences a strong and independent, albeit wary, woman. Radbourne begins as a typical jaded cynic who has pursued empty pleasures since the end of his first, loveless marriage, but after he meets Anthea he is all amiability. Herein lies the problem: We never actually see Radbourne fall in love with Anthea. He follows her to Bath partly out of attraction and partly to spite his demanding mistress, and immediately he is taking tea with the ladies, promenading in the Pump Room, and thinking of marriage -- an institution he denounced to his mistress just days earlier. He is frequently "surprised" by his own actions and frankly so was this reader. It is all too sudden.

    Nevertheless, though the development of the romance leaves something to be desired, this is a good story and a fine early effort by a prolific and respected writer of the genre.

 

A Regency Rose
by 
Miriam Lynch
Coventry #29, March 1980
ISBN: 0-449-50031-4

Reviewed 9/5/02

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Miriam Lynch

See a list of more Regencies about
Heirlooms

See a list of more Regencies about
Sibling Rivalry

A Regency Rose

by Miriam Lynch


Rating: good

    When Miss Rosalind Bannestock learns that her sister Harriet, who did not take during her Season, is in love with Sir Julian Wickstead, she is determined to win this Nonpareil for her shy sibling despite the fact that he seems to be courting their beautiful cousin Corinna. Rosalind concocts a scheme to make Sir Julian fall in love with her first, then, when she rejects him, he will turn to the sympathetic Harriet and fall in love with her.

    This scheme is admittedly nonsensical, but thankfully it does not progress very far. Intrigue intervenes in the form of a family heirloom and a villain desperate to get his hands on it. The family matriarch dies, leaving her offspring a pin shaped like a delicate rose with diamond dewdrops. As the granddaughter with "Rose" in her name, Rosalind should, by family tradition, be the one to receive it, but her uncle gives it to his own daughter Corinna instead. From that point on, things begin to go wrong for the Bannestock family, as if a curse has befallen them. 

    At the center of the trouble is Sir Willton Turncroft, a rake who suddenly begins to pay court to Rosalind and inveigle himself into her family. He covets the pin and tries several schemes to get ahold of it, from seduction to burglary. But then the pin disappears, causing further chaos until it is finally returned by a mysterious messenger and given to Rosalind, its rightful owner. Suddenly things are put to rights and the couples are able to sort themselves out: Harriet finds a match in her brother's awkward tutor, Corinna's true love returns, and Sir Julian is free to declare his love to Rosalind. 

    The rose pin is a clever device around which to center the intrigue, and Sir Willton, though his motive for coveting the pin leaves something to be desired, plays his role as a stock villain with aplomb. Corinna is a good-hearted person, quite different from the usual spoiled beauty. She does commit the standard Regency damsel faux pas by sneaking off alone to an inn outside town in response to a note from Sir Willton claiming to have news of her beloved. But overall she is a likable character and the resolution of her romance provides an interesting twist. 

    The romance between Harriet and her brother's tutor is not so well handled. The tutor, Matthew, begins the story with a crush on Rosalind, which both sisters discuss at some length. Strangely, they both seem to promptly forget their conversation. Rosalind is taken completely by surprise when Matthew declares himself. Harriet and Matthew share one nice moment which would have been an ideal starting point for the development of their romance, but instead Matthew continues to pursue Rosalind until almost the end, making his sudden switch to Harriet awkward and unsatisfactory. Harriet then agonizes over telling Rosalind that Matthew has transferred his affections to her, apparently forgetting that Rosalind has no interest whatsoever in Matthew. 

    Ordinarily a poorly handled secondary romance would not have too much impact on the overall story, but as it was it became one too many elements in a busy story that took away from the primary romance. Rosalind and Sir Julian's interactions were enjoyable and amusing, particularly their first encounter when she forgot which scheme she was supposed to be following and blew hot and cold on the confused hero. A few more of these moments would have been a great improvement. Still, this is an entertaining, albeit somewhat muddled, read.

 

A Mind of Her Own
by
Anne MacNeill
Signet, September 1983

ISBN: 0-451-12482-0

Reviewed 12/6/02

This is the only Regency by
Anne MacNeill

See a list of more Regencies about
Politics & Social Issues
&
Married Life

A Mind of Her Own

by Anne MacNeill


Rating: good

    Courtney Davies is not content. She is married to a good man and has adjusted to the intimacies of the marriage bed, but she feels that there is something lacking in the intimacy of their relationship. She and her husband Nigel do not talk about things of any importance or share their deepest feelings. Courtney is aware that Nigel is dissatisfied with the idleness of London Society, as she is, but they continue on an endless round of balls and parties all the same. Something, she feels, must change.

    A dramatic change occurs shortly. On a drive through London, Courtney rescues a 12-year-old girl from a man who intended to sell her to a brothel. Courtney takes the girl into her home but decides that helping only one child is not enough. She and a friend, with the help of a reform-minded lord, set up a refuge for children in the East End.

    Nigel is shocked by his wife's actions and fears for her safety (rightly, as it turns out). But he cannot help but admire the fact that she has put into practice convictions that he has only held in theory. Later, on a trip to inspect his mills in Manchester, Nigel again observes his wife in action after the Peterloo massacre, but this time he determines to be more than a bystander.

    The social problems of the Regency period and particularly the plight of the poor are explored in a relatively indepth manner for a Regency romance. On the whole, this look at the other side of Regency society interesting and effective. Especially noteworthy is the detailed eyewitness account of the Peterloo massacre, when the militia assaulted peaceful demonstrators protesting working conditions, killing 11 people and wounding approximately 400. This compelling account is marred by the fact that for some reason the author decided to make this terrible event even more so by dramatically inflating the number of people killed to over 220 and the number of wounded to over 12,000. This change is odd and unnecessary. It is horrifying enough that an armed militia descended upon unarmed families enjoying a summer's day, and the author does quite a good job of conveying the terror felt by the men, women and children at St. Peter's Fields, so there was no need to distort the facts to increase the drama.

    The relationship between Courtney and Nigel is somewhat secondary to the examination of social problems, but it is nevertheless fairly well integrated into this storyline. It is interesting to begin with an already married couple, and their initial relationship seems very realistic for a period when couples often met only a few times during the course of a Season and did not have the opportunity to get to know one another very well before marriage. Courtney and Nigel like and admire one another but have not developed any real intimacy except, interestingly, in bed. Often in traditional Regencies dealing with married couples, a reason will be contrived to delay sexual relations between husband and wife, but this novel contains several fairly steamy scenes. As for their personal relationship, it grows along with their social consciousness. Courtney matures from girl to woman and finds a worthwhile use of her mind, while Nigel, who is like-minded, is determined to prove himself worthy of his strong-willed wife. Together they achieve a meeting of minds as well as bodies.

    Anne MacNeill is a pseudonym for popular contemporary romance author Maura Seger. I find it interesting that she chose such a weighty subject for her only Regency. Readers interested in an unvarnished look at Regency England beyond the narrow confines of High Society may find this book of interest. While at times the social agenda is a bit heavy handed and the couple's romance takes a backseat to their good deeds, for the most part this is a satisfying read.
 

The Absentee Earl
by
Clarice Peters

Harlequin #82, September 1992
ISBN: 0-373-31182-6

Reviewed 10/31/02

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Clarice Peters

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Abandoned Brides

The Absentee Earl

by Clarice Peters


Rating: good

    Violet, Lady Avery, is shocked when a masked gentleman tries to kiss her at a costume ball. She is even more shocked to discover that the gentleman is her husband Richard, who disappeared on their wedding day a year ago leaving only a cryptic note. He has now returned after traveling through Europe and on to India. Richard offers no explanation for his abrupt departure and though he treats his wife coolly he refuses to consider a petition for divorce.

    Violet does not know what to make of his behavior, but she does know that she cannot continue to live with the man who broke her heart. She is determined to make her own way, so she decides to become a governess and visits a tearoom that caters to governesses to do research. At the same time she also decides to try to solve a recent string of jewelry thefts from townhouses in the area in order to get the £1200 reward. What she most certainly will not do is fall back in love with her husband.

    Richard, Lord Avery, was a happy man on his wedding day until he overheard a conversation between his bride and her aunt that caused him to believe the woman he loved had only married him for his money. Deeply wounded, he fled the country hoping to forget her, but even India was not far enough. He is not quite sure what he expects to happen upon his return, but what he most certainly will not do is fall back in love with his wife.

    The overall tone of this book is lighthearted ‚€“ there is no hand-wringing or angst or bitterness. This is not to say that the characters‚€™ emotions are absent. Both parties have clearly been hurt by what has happened and they manage to gradually come to an understanding of one another over the course of the story. Still, their reactions do not quite fit with the dramatic premise of a man abandoning his wife on their wedding day and not returning for an entire year. This is such an extreme reaction on Richard‚€™s part (and frankly a silly one given the flimsy evidence) that one would expect a higher level of tension between the hero and heroine and more of an uproar from Society upon his return. 

    But the lighthearted tone, though somewhat incongruous with the premise, is what makes this story enjoyable. Peters has a breezy style and employs Regency lingo with accuracy and enthusiasm. The pursuit of the jewel thieves adds a caper element to the story as well as a number of humorous moments, including a priceless scene wherein Richard discovers his staid butler hiding behind the curtains in Violet‚€™s bedchamber. There is also an interesting secondary romance between the Averys‚€™ man of affairs and an Indian widow whom Richard saved from suttee and brought to London. If you‚€™re looking for an angst-ridden Abandoned Bride story, try Mary Balogh‚€™s The First Snowdrop, but if you‚€™re looking for a leisurely, fun read this is a good choice.
 

The Golden Thistle
by 
Janet Louise Roberts
Dell, 1973
ISBN: 0-440-13048-4

Reviewed 2/26/02

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Janet Louise Roberts

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Regencies set in Italy

The Golden Thistle

by Janet Louise Roberts


Rating: good

    Lady Pamela Ilchester travels to Rome to marry her fiancé -- Douglas Kinnair, Earl of Fitzroy -- whom she loved as a child but who has since become a stranger to her. Upon her arrival, she discovers that things are even worse than she feared: Douglas is on a sensitive diplomatic mission and is irritated by Pamela's unexpected arrival. In addition, Pamela observes that Douglas appears to be enamored of Beata, a voluptuous beauty from an influential Italian family.

    Despite her troubles, however, Pamela finds herself enjoying her stay in Rome. She is fascinated by the city's history and people. She takes it upon herself to learn Italian and makes frequent trips to quaint neighborhood cafes in order to sketch the local scenery and inhabitants. But what interests her most is the precarious political situation in Italy, so when she discovers that one of the footmen in her sister's house is a spy fighting for Italian independence, she decides to help him escape discovery. Douglas is furious and insists upon hastening their wedding, but at the same time he is intrigued to discover that his betrothed has a lively and inquisitive mind and an interest in politics. 

    The story is told exclusively from Pamela's point of view and Janet Louise Roberts does a fine job of conveying her character. Through her eyes we experience the excitement of a first visit to Italy and the intrigue of a bit of espionage. Pamela's frustration with Douglas is palpable but her continuing love for him is evident. A particularly nice touch is the brooch of a golden thistle -- the emblem of her fiancé's house -- that she wears secretly under her bodice. The reader anticipates the moment when Douglas sees this token of affection and realizes that her love for him hasn't wavered since their childhood days.

    Unfortunately, since the brooch is revealed when Douglas tears Pamela's dress open in a fit of rage because he thinks she has been unfaithful, the moment is not romantic as it might have been. He does not rape her, but he is very rough with her despite her pleas to stop, and he injures her arm to the extent that it aches and burns for several days afterward. Douglas is immediately repentant and solicitous of Pamela's feelings, but the scene is distasteful and creates a bad impression of Douglas that lingers.

    A large part of the problem with this book is that Douglas remains distant throughout. Not only is the reader never given his point of view, Pamela never really has a chance to work things out with him either. Their problems are resolved in a last-minute, rather unsatisfactory discussion. Early on in the story, there is a promising hint that the root of the couple's problems lies in Pamela's uncertainty over how to deal with Douglas when he returned wounded from the war and his fears that she was no longer interested in him. But instead of exploring this avenue, Roberts falls back on the cliché of "the other woman who once wronged him" as the reason for Douglas's jealousy and suspicions. As for his behavior with Beata the Italian beauty, this is never truly explained or excused at all. I had fully expected to discover that Douglas's dalliance was part of his master plan to uncover spies. Instead, he simply reiterates that he admires Beata's family and does not seem to understand why Pamela is upset to find him enjoying a comfortable coze with Beata just after he cut short his honeymoon with Pamela. This, along with subsequent revelations about Beata, makes Douglas appear to be somewhat dense.

    I enjoyed this book most of the way through. Janet Louise Roberts is a fine writer who crafted a potentially interesting story. The Italian setting is picturesque and charming, and the political subplot gives it added depth. Pamela is a strong and interesting heroine and her conflicted feelings about Douglas maintained suspense and momentum until near the end. However, although Pamela seems satisfied with the outcome, this reader was not. 
 

The Rake's Companion
by
Regina Towers
Candlelight #593
August 1980
ISBN: 0-440-17238-1

See a list of more books by
Regina Towers
writing as
Nan Pemberton
Nina Porter
& Nina Pykare

See a list of more books about
Companions
&
Mystery & Intrigue

The Rake's Companion

by Regina Towers


Rating: good

    When Miss Faith Duncan accepts a position as a companion to an elderly countess who lives in a remote castle on the Yorkshire moors, she wonders what she is getting herself into. And well she should! There are evil doings afoot!

    Mr. Felix Kingston, the gentleman who hired her, implies that someone may be trying to do in his aunt the countess in order to get her money. Mr. Felix Kingston has a pleasant face and an amiable demeanor so Faith deems him trustworthy. On the other hand, Felix's brother, the Earl of Moorshead, has a dark countenance and a brooding demeanor -- and he has the gall to kiss Faith at their first meeting! -- so he is no doubt the villain.

    You do see where this is going, don't you?

    This is one campy book and boy is it fun. It is a prime example of the Gothic novel; in fact, apart from a brief mention of the Prince Regent, it might as well not be a Regency at all. This Gothic has everything: A windswept moor, a gloomy castle, a brooding lord, Dire Warnings, Sinister Threats -- and yes! Faith actually runs about in the middle of the night, pursuing a ghostly figure and exploring a secret passage!

    Readers with high blood pressure, be warned: Faith will irritate you to the point where you may shake the book in hopes of knocking some sense into her. She doggedly persists in her assessment of Felix's and the Earl's characters even after she has literally been hit over the head. Faith is obviously afflicted with that Gothic malady, TSTL syndrome: She is Too Stupid To Live. But of course she does live. Happily ever after, too. With ... well, I won't spoil the, er, surprise.

    If you fondly remember Gothics from your youth or have always meant to try one, seek out this book, wait for a rainy, windy day, and indulge yourself in a guilty pleasure.
 


 
 
 
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