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Sheila Simonson

REVIEW: Lady Elizabeth’s Comet by Sheila Simonson

REVIEW: Lady Elizabeth’s Comet by Sheila Simonson

Dear Mrs Simonson,

I first read “Lady Elizabeth’s Comet” a few years ago when I was lucky enough to score a copy of it through a used bookstore. Ever since then, I’ve touted its merits to those looking for intelligent heroines, beta heroes and wonderful storytelling. I’m delighted that Uncial Press has brought it out in eform and I can talk it up some more.

Did I say intelligent heroines? Lady Elizabeth Conway is one of my favorites. Her passion is astronomy yet you don’t use it as a prop to get her into silly situations from which the hero must rescue her nor to force her to act up in public in order to Make a Point. It also plays a pivotal role in whom she marries by making her open her eyes to the truth of her convenient betrothal. Ah, I never said she doesn’t make mistakes and I thank you for hers. They make her well rounded and believable with nary a hint of Mary Sue-ness. She commits some blunders, has to suffer for them and grows from the experience.

Tom Conway is a delight. He’s a man who could easily hold a grudge against Elizabeth’s father. As the man’s less than appreciated heir, he was basically forced into the Army while the Earl tried without success to father a son. And now that the man’s dead and Tom has succeeded to the Earldom, he has to deal with all the weighty problems attendant on the position as well as taking up the title of Head of the Family. Yet he never shirks his Duty or Position, dealing with it all with a wry smile on his face and even devising the perfect birthday presents for two of Elizabeth’s younger sisters. He’s man who’s not had the easiest of lives yet he never moans or acts less than a gentleman. Quiet strength is what I think of when he comes to mind.

I love the witty, dry humor of this quiet, gentle regency. You don’t rush us from Event to Event but allow the story to slowly spool out as these two fall in love. There are areas where cliches could have been introduced or used yet thankfully were not. Characters who could have been two dimensional stereotypes, bullies or idiots who instead were well done in their own right and who advanced the story without taking it over.

It’s been a few years since I last read it and it was with a little trepidation that I flicked on my ereader. Would it hold up to my rosy memories? Was it still the wonderful book I remember? Yeessss, it does and it is. A

~Jayne

in ebook format or from online used book sources – ISBN 0446300365

REVIEW:  Cousinly Connexion by Sheila Simonson

REVIEW: Cousinly Connexion by Sheila Simonson

Dear Mrs. Simonson,

simonson-cconnexion.jpgYou’ve only written a few Regencies yet all have been ones I’ve enjoyed. As I’ve not heard of anything new from you in years, I guess I need to look into trying some of your mysteries. For readers unfamiliar with your books, I’m glad that this one has been reissued in ebook form and hope it will inspire a new readers to try you out.

When Lady Meriden’s eldest stepson and husband die within days of each other, the estate passes to the second stepson. No one has seen him in years, yet he inherits everything, including his father’s gambling debts and guardianship of his seven siblings. Jane Ash rushes to her aunt’s aid. Months go by before the new baron comes, and Jane is left to cope with her ailing, self-dramatizing aunt and bewildered cousins, all of whom have problems. Lady Meriden alternately spoils and neglects them. Julian, the heir, has his own problems and wants nothing less than to play the heavy parent to his unknown siblings. When he does come, will he and Jane form an unexpected alliance that leads to romance?

This is a perfectly unexceptionable Regency and I loved the take off beginning on Austen’s “Persuasion.” All etiquette and rules obeyed and it has delightful characters who act responsibly, do not fling themselves into love and poo-poo attempts made to be flung by others. There are lots of characters yet I felt I got to know most of them (except for the twins and even their own relations viewed them as twin terrors). I was delighted that some cliched standard Regency characters are turned on their heads such as the younger brother Vincent who turns out not to really want to be ton Tulip and who’s perfectly happy learning estate management. And at least Jane’s father isn’t a typical absent Regency father — no he’s not in book much but he asks about Jane, writes to her often, wants her to come home and eventually fetches her and puts his foot down about her being a reclusive old maid waiting attendance on his Drama Diva sister.

I loved how Ju masterfully manages the almost overwhelming cares he’s so unexpectedly inherited. He slowly and carefully helped his siblings without taking over, making them feel too bad or resentful. And how like men not to talk and tell each other what they really feel (Vincent that he doesn’t mind not being on the town and Ju that he is grateful for his brother’s seemingly trivial help in dealing with all the estates). Sobering moments are provided
when Will Tarrant and Julian reflect on the horror of Waterloo, how badly Ju was injured and how many friends (4 out of 5, on average) they lost there. The casualty lists printed after the battle must have made even strong men weep. General Peggy Tarrant is a wonder and I’m glad Will knows how lucky he is to have her as his wife.

I truly am sorry you haven’t written more Regencies. This one is a small gem and perhaps will lead to your others being reissued in ebook form. B for “Cousinly Connexion.”

~Jayne

eBook Publisher: Uncial Press, Published: 2007 or available at Fictionwise.