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REVIEW: Eyton by Lynne Connolly

Dear Mrs. Connolly,

Eyton Cover imageAt last, at last. The continuation of the series faithful fans have been waiting for. It all started years ago with “Yorkshire,” “Devonshire,” “Venice” and “Harley Street” as we watched the aristocratic Richard Kerre, heir to the Earldom of Southland, and Rose Golightly, daughter of the gentry, fall in love at first sight then battle for the right to marry. Everyone said it would fail, that rake Richard would never stay true to quiet wallflowerish Rose. But these two knew their own hearts and found in each other that which most married couples didn’t even bother to look for: true love.

Now Rose has finally given birth to their first child. I say finally not because it’s been so long since R&R were married but rather it’s been so long since the last book in the series, “Harley Street,” when Rose announced her “interesting condition.” What was it? five years? Not even elephants stay pregnant that long! [G] Anyway, the Kerre family is gathering to celebrate the birth of young Helen (I totally agree with Rose’s reaction to the name suggestions Richard jokingly made) and love, theft and murder are in the air. Can R&R further the cause of true love, discover who’s got the light fingers, solve a murder and keep scandal away from the family?

I love the snapshot of the mid-eighteenth century presented in these stories. Your history is definitely not wallpaper but detailed, in depth, well researched and integrated into the fabric of the plot. R&R discover that the theft of a necklace ties in with the murder of one of the victims but to do this requires learning about the working class victim, his duties, his opportunities, his past and who might have directed his actions. This allows us to see a comparison between the aristocratic world of the Kerres and that of their working class servants.

But when the crime seems headed in the direction that would hit close to home with the Kerre family, Richard, who has a passionate interest in seeing justice done, is caught in a dilemma. Does he let nature take its course and risk a scandal for the family or does he work behind the scenes and do what’s right but not necessarily legal?

The eighteenth century world doesn’t seem that much different from today in that the masses avidly read about the rich and famous and are just waiting for the great families/famous celebrities to flub up. And you make quite clear what flubbing up for the Kerres would mean – difficulty in making advantageous marriages, weakening the power of the Earldom and wrecking the chances of Gervase who is standing for Parliament.

I like how you also use this subplot to point out the first bit of contention between Richard and Rose. Raised in the gentry, Rose is bothered by Richard’s decision to not only not tell the constable the truth but to actually lead the man’s investigation astray. Up until now, the personal differences R&R faced were seemingly minor and easily overcome by their love for each other. But here’s something that will present Rose with a major division between her old life and her new one. This showcases one of the strengths of the series – that it portrays the evolving relationship between these two characters as would be expected in any marriage.

In the previous books, Rose is seen to be struggling a little to find her way in her new world. In “Eyton” I’m glad to see that her confidence, or at least her public acting ability, is increasing. She’s not just aping the great lady anymore but we see that she’s slowly becoming one. She’s also a new mother, dealing with the changes that brings to her station and to those who, up until now, had stood closer in the line of succession to the Earldom.

As well, she’s worried about how motherhood might change her relationship with Richard – which surely all new mothers must feel. Richard is a champ in this department, displaying his love for his wife and new daughter to their family and in some cases to the masses. I have to admit that I got tired of having the point driven home about Richard’s public mask of aristocratic hauteur and how he sometimes lets it slip to show his real feelings for Rose. I recall it from the previous books and didn’t need a reminder every other chapter.

And now for the questions. You know I always have questions about your books. Is Eyton based on any particular stately home? Were international marriages among the aristocracy common? How did the Kerre family silver avoid being melted down to support the King during the Civil War? Are there prospects for Georgianna? And of course I’m still “Waiting for Gervase.”

Though new readers could actually start the series with this book, I would suggest beginning at the beginning to catch all the references and see the evolution of Richard and Rose’s relationship. I’m thrilled to see the series continuing and eagerly waiting for the next installment. B for “Eyton.”

~Jayne

This book can be purchased at Samhain.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

13 Comments

  1. Lynne Connolly
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 14:46:44

    Thank you for a great review!

    To answer your questions – Eyton is based on Chatsworth, in Derbyshire, in the area known as “the dukeries.” I used to live near Chatsworth and got to know it well. I try to visit the places so I can get a real feel for it and in all my historicals, I have a place in mind (even the scruffy little inn in “Last Chance, My Love” exists!

    International marriages did happen, especially before the French Revolution. They weren’t common, but they existed enough for me to use them.

    The Kerres, like many of their ilk, kept their heads down or became moderate Parliamentarians in the Civil War. Not all the aristocracy was impoverished by the war, only the ones that were passionate adherents to Charles I (the idiot).

    Georgiana – I haven’t really sorted her out yet, she keeps coming and going. Gervase – the next book, I promise. I made my editor cry, she says. That’s “Hareton Hall,” coming in July. But the next historical is out in April, “A Betting Chance,” and because it’s about cards and betting, I couldn’t resist. Richard and Freddy make guest appearances in it.

    I asked my editor if I should think about doing a third person standalone for Freddy, and she said, “Yes!” I have a couple of stories he could feature in. Should I do Freddy?

    ReplyReply

  2. Jayne
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 14:56:20

    @Lynne Connolly: Ah, Chatsworth…all those windows. Would hate to be a housemaid in that house!

    When you first mentioned the old silver that the family got during the reign of Henry VIII, I thought, “a ha, so they were Parliamentarians.” But then you had some line about how a Kerre ancestor of the time went into exile, or died in poverty, or something like that, due to his support of the King. Which then confused me enough to ask the question.

    I’d love to see if R&R’s relationship influences Georgiana and what she’s willing to settle for. Or not.

    Gervase! Yes! Awaiting that with baited breath.

    Yes, let’s “do” Freddy!

    ReplyReply

  3. DS
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 17:28:06

    Bess of Hardwick. I always liked her– smart and tough. Is this the one that was “more glass than wall”?

    ReplyReply

  4. Jayne
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 19:49:13

    @DS: Imagine how much Windex it would take to keep all these sparkly!

    http://home.debitel.net/user/fambach/images/208_chatsworth_house.jpg

    ReplyReply

  5. romsfuulynn
    Feb 01, 2010 @ 21:58:10

    squeee!!
    Off to buy this right now! (Who needs sleep.) Very nice review.

    ReplyReply

  6. DS
    Feb 02, 2010 @ 06:03:15

    @Jayne: This is totally away from the book which I will be buying because I enjoyed the previous books I read in the series, you were dead right about history not being wallpaper in Ms Connolly’s writing.

    Ok after the world’s longest run on sentence– I wonder what they did clean the windows with? Vinegar? Stale urine? (Stale so the ammonia would have a chance to form from the break down of urea) That last thought is kind of gross.

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  7. Jayne
    Feb 02, 2010 @ 06:17:36

    @DS: LOL, here’s hoping it was vinegar. Does anyone know for certain?

    ReplyReply

  8. Jayne
    Feb 02, 2010 @ 06:26:58

    International marriages did happen, especially before the French Revolution. They weren't common, but they existed enough for me to use them.

    Meant to add that I’m glad Lizzie won’t be headed to France. I would worry about her children running afoul of Madame Defarge. Yes, I know, I’m strange that way.

    ReplyReply

  9. Lynne Connolly
    Feb 02, 2010 @ 07:17:46

    Bess of Hardwick did rebuild Chatsworth, but it was rebuilt after her time, and that’s the one I based Eyton on. In case you’re wondering, Hareton Hall, James’s new house, is based on Saltram House in Devon, one of the most perfect gems ever. In “Tantalizing Secrets” the great house is Belvoir Castle and Arabella’s house is Belgrave Hall in Leicester, and in “Alluring Secrets,” Sev’s house is Wilton.
    Back to Bess. The “more glass than wall” comment was made about Hardwick Hall (you see, it rhymes!) and the display of glass was meant to show her wealth and power. At the time, she was making a play for the crown with her grand-daughter, Arbell Stuart. It failed, Arbel was a bit of a disappointment, but Bess still ended her life as a hugely influential and powerful woman.
    Hardwick isn’t far from Chatsworth, but it’s pure Elizabethan and stunning.
    My favorite houses ever are Haddon Hall (so romantic!) and Little Moreton Hall (just amazing – half timbered and built as the owners fancied). More recently, I love Wightwick and Morris’s The Red House, and if I had to choose a house to live in, it’d be The Red House.
    For something completely different, Eltham Palace near London was rebuilt and furnished in the art deco style by the Courtauld family.
    Google image for some, see what you think!
    I do think that researching and visiting specific places adds something to a book, and whenever possible I try to do so. I do it in my contemporaries as well, visit online real estate sites to find the perfect apartment!

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  10. Estara
    Feb 02, 2010 @ 13:57:33

    Oooh review! I bought it right away but it was on my TBR. I’ve just finished a book today, so this will be up next.

    I keep saying R&R are my Georgian Roarke and Eve Dallas and it’s nice to read they continue going strong ^^ – and that their relationship continues to develop along with them.

    My condolences for everyone who had to wait five years, I only discovered Lynne Connolly last year, when I got my first ebook reader.

    ReplyReply

  11. February 2nd Samhain roundup « Anne Scott
    Feb 02, 2010 @ 14:52:43

    [...] Eyton by Lynne Connolly reviewed at Dear Author B [...]

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    Feb 05, 2010 @ 12:00:56

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  13. Dear Author Recommends for February | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Feb 05, 2010 @ 17:31:00

    [...] Eyton by Lynne Connolly recommended by Jayne [...]

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