REVIEW: Mr. Harding Proposes by Catherine Dove
Dear Ms. Dove,
What a delightful traditional Regency romance you’ve written. You have a good feel for the period and seem to have done your research. I enjoy friends turned lovers stories and hope that we hear from you for a long time.
I like how you’ve made Mr. Richard Harding adhere to the standards of regency conduct without turning him into either a rake or a stuffed shirt. And he’s not a Duke! Yippee! He’s
not even an aristocrat. He’s just a landed gentleman. He’s also not the most handsome, the tallest, the one with the widest shoulders, etc. Ah, bliss.
Georgiana is a breath of fresh air as well. Not a hoyden, not the most beautiful nor a wall flower either. She’s smart and outgoing but she’s also smart enough to respect and obey the conventions of her day. She also doesn’t go against her mother’s wishes in regards to furthering a friendship with the now widowed Lady Shipton just to kick over the maternal traces. Georgie thinks about what she’s doing and realizes that only a few high sticklers, such as her mother, don’t receive the former actress, while the rest of society is pleased to entertain her.
I enjoyed your secondary characters and the way they added to the main love story without diverting too much attention by trying to set up any future books in a series. Even the secondary romance adds to the progression of Richard and Georgie’s. I want to note the servants you have in your story. They’re not pals or buddies of the gentry but working people with dignity who take pride in their jobs yet have a strong feeling of loyalty for their employers.
I appreciate the humor you spread throughout the book. I found the scenes when
he’s working himself up to propose marriage to his childhood friend to be wonderfully humorous. But what really impressed me was how you show us things with just a few words rather than trying to tell us with many. “Ribble’s expression was a rebuke,” “His butler opened the door with haughty dignity.” I can *see* these scenes and actions.
Yet, despite all that I enjoy about “Mr. Harding Proposes” there is one niggling problem that demands to be mentioned and that did, reluctantly, lower my grade. How could Georgie, only 20 years old herself and unmarried, have been considered an acceptable chaperon for her younger sister’s come out? Or even partial chaperon? This is one instance when their flighty, overly dramatic and supposed to be a high stickler, mother would have to have gotten off her daybed before noon and done her duty instead of leaving it to her eldest daughter.
Lots of chat groups have bemoaned how publishers seem to be abandoning the traditional Regency book genre. They don’t sell, only old ladies read them, they have boring covers and any number of other reasons are proposed by publishing houses to justify this. Maybe ebooks will offer a way for authors to still sell these stories and for fans to get their ton and Corinthian fixes. I’m happy to give you a B for this book and look forward to what you’ll offer us next.