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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

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.

22 Comments

  1. Angela
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 05:09:13

    I LOVE this book. In fact, I love all of Simonson’s traditional Regencies (I think I expressed this in an earlier review lol). I get particularly teary eyed over The Bar Sinister.

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  2. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 05:14:42

    Oh yeah, “The Bar Sinister” is great. And very different in the amount of screen time the hero and heroine spend together.

    I think I just have one more new-to-me trad regency to read by Simonson. Sadness.

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  3. romsfuulynn
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 06:34:32

    I love all of Simonson’s books, but this is oneof my very favorites. I have three paper copies, but am thrilled to discover that Uncial is bringing it out. Not only do I wish that they would reprint her books, I also long for more.

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  4. Sally
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 07:35:02

    I have to join the club and say that I love these books too.

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  5. (Jān)
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 07:42:45

    Oh, it's in eformat now? Aren't ebooks wonderful, letting us (re)discover older stories most people would never see if it weren't for them.

    This was a favorite of mine too. Definitely recommended.

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  6. Jane
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 10:07:15

    Wow. I’ve never read her. Off to Fictionwise. I agree, Jan, that ebooks are a wonderful thing. I particularly love rediscovering these old gems.

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  7. Book Worm
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 11:39:27

    Really lovely review! I’ll be sure to look this one out soon – though I’ve a stack of books to get through that never seems to get any smaller!

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  8. Bonnie Dee
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 11:54:10

    I love a beta hero and this book sounds like one I’d really enjoy. I actually keep a list of the books reviewed here that grab my attention, and order them as I’m able. Thanks for providing trustworthy, in depth reviews.

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  9. Jayne
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 12:11:28

    Bonnie, keep her book “Cousinly Connection” in mind too. It’s also available from Uncial Press.

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  10. Sally
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 17:29:47

    Cousinly Connection is my favorite of her books although I like them all.

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  11. Kate
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 19:35:59

    You know, I’ve been rereading some Carla Kelly regencies, and they really are just so quiet and understated, yet powerful. I will definitely be trying this one.

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  12. Lynne
    Apr 30, 2008 @ 21:28:45

    Thanks for the recs! I love traditional Regencies and will be glad to get my hands on these, particularly since I can read them on my new phone/ebook reader. :-)

    They’ll be a nice antidote to the old Zebra Regencies my sister recently dumped on me for my garage sale. I dunno if it’s a coincidence or what, but I read six or seven in a row that had some of the worst grammar I’ve seen in NY-published books. And let’s not even get started on the characters and plot. Zoinks!

    Off to download! :-)

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  13. Angela
    May 01, 2008 @ 02:32:49

    IMO, the quality in the traditional Regency dropped dramatically in the by the mid-90s. I’ve had so many bad experiences that I really don’t read anything whose date is post 1994, unless they are highly recommended (like the Nonnie St George books, when they were first released).

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  14. Lynne
    May 01, 2008 @ 08:55:16

    I agree, Angela. I hadn’t narrowed it down to an exact year, but mid-90s sounds right.

    Did demand become so great that standards went down? Was there a big turnover in editorial staff? I have no idea, but the decrease in quality is definitely noticeable.

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  15. Mary Jo Putney
    May 01, 2008 @ 20:51:19

    Sheila Simonson is WONDERFUL, and Lady Elizabeth’s Comet is my favorite of her Regencies. Though A Cousinly Connexion is a close second. Her characterization, research, and intelligent writing make her top drawer, so it’s great that this book is available again.

    I need to pull my copy and reread it!

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  16. Janine
    May 01, 2008 @ 22:42:58

    Ms. Putney, I think I am going to have a fangirl moment here and tell you how much I love Uncommon Vows and the Fallen Angel series…

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  17. Mary Jo Putney
    May 02, 2008 @ 09:46:39

    Thanks, Janine! There is nothing like a fangirl moment to help a writer start the day with a smile on her face. :)

    As you may have seen elsewhere, I’m starting a new paperback Regency historical series with Kensington. The first will be out in July 2009. I want to make this new series as strong as the Fallen Angels, but different enough to feel fresh rather than copying myself. (No fantasy elements.)

    In the meantime, Simonson’s Tom Conway is still a delight. I’m definitely rereading that book!

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  18. Robin Bayne
    May 02, 2008 @ 09:53:27

    I have to agree with Janine : ) Looking forward to the new series, MJ.

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  19. Jayne
    May 02, 2008 @ 10:03:33

    Janine, you’ve gone through how many copies of “Uncommon Vows?”
    Three? Four? ;)

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  20. Janine
    May 02, 2008 @ 15:17:34

    Looking forward to the new series, MJ.

    Me too.

    Janine, you've gone through how many copies of “Uncommon Vows?”
    Three? Four? ;)

    Actually, I cannot explain this given the multitude of times I’ve read the book, but somehow, some way, the binding of my first printing copy has held. The pages are tan, the cover is creased and chipped, the spine has many cracks, but the book has survived for seventeen years. Most of the books on my bookshelf are in great condition, since I know how to read without creasing spines. I keep thinking I should replace it, since it’s in such disrepair and since the cover of the new reprint is really pretty. But I have such affection for the book — I remember exactly how I sat in the living room chair in my old apartment and read it for the very first time, back in 1991, and how completely it transported me — that I find it hard to let my original copy go.

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  21. Meanne
    May 19, 2008 @ 02:36:08

    My heartful thanks to you, Jayne, and Dear Author, for introducing me to this wonderful author. I’ve just read this book as well as Bar Sinister and A Cousinly Connexion back to back in a matter of 2 days( Thank heavens for ebooks! )…

    Lovely lovely books!!

    Aside from authors like Sheila Simonson, Laura Matthews and Carla Kelly, who else can you recommend that specializes on witty, quiet and gentle regencies??

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  22. Jayne
    May 19, 2008 @ 13:20:27

    Wonderful! Thank you for the feedback and I’m so glad you enjoyed these.

    Hmmm, whom to try next? You could look at Patricia Wynn, Carola Dunn or Lynn Kerstan. Kerstan has some lovely books but she’s a little more hit or miss. Dunn has quite a backlist. Wynn is a little less known but I’ve enjoyed all her books so far. And lots of them are available at Fictionwise or Regency Reads (a part of Belgrave Books).

    I adore Barbara Metzger and Joan Smith but lots of their books have a more madcap feel to them.

    Let me keep thinking to see who else I can come up with.

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