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REVIEW: Memoirs of a Hoyden by Joan Smith

Dear Ms. Smith,

big_Smith-MHoydenYour comedic trad Regencies are always a delight for me. There are some that have had me cackling with glee as I read them since I love it when an author can turn the standard Regency conventions upside down – or at least twist ’em a little.

Miss Marion Mathieson takes no prisoners and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. She followed her English Army father across the Peninsula then after he died and she got shipped off to boring relatives, she got a secretary, Ronald Kidd, and took off for parts more interesting which she detailed in a book. Her daydreams are for the three romance novels she’s penned under another name. So when she and Ronald are traveling via coach to a speaking engagement and it gets held up, she’s eager to see what happens so she can add it to her next manuscript.

To her utter disgust, she displays more gumption then any of the men with her including one Corinthian who is merely either bored or more bored throughout the whole event. But something about it strikes her as odd and she eventually bullies Lord Kestrel out of his boredom to set off after the men she thinks are Frenchie spies.

But are there really spies and if so, where are they? And for a woman who is past thirty and has made no bones about her lack of interest in marriage, Marion is startled to find her interest caught by Kestrel. Even if she does want to brain him half the time.

The plot machinations and time that Marion expends convinced that she knows exactly what’s going on are enough to make my head hurt. At times I can see why Kestrel wants to return the favor of clobbering her over the head. But no one can say Marion isn’t ready and willing to hold up her end of the events which unfold. To his credit, I think Kestrel is going into their marriage with his eyes wide open and fully ready to battle his way out of whatever Marion might get them into.

The whole spy stuff plot is nothing new. The reason to read the book is for the sparks which fly whenever Marion and Kestrel are in a room. The fact that they keep from killing each other on their way to saving England is a wonder. The secondary fact that I buy into the fact that they go from despising each other and fighting with each other to kisses that seem as if they’ll cause these two to explode with passion and all in the course of 3 days says something for your writing skills.

“Memoirs of a Hoyden” is another oldie but goodie that I’m glad that “Regency House” has reissued it. B


FTC discloser – I bought this with my own money and you can buy it at Fictionwise in DRM free multiformat.

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.


  1. Shiloh Walker
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 13:44:36

    LMAO, ok, I LOVE that titles. Memoirs of a Hoyden.

  2. Jayne
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 14:22:47

    Isn’t it great? And after all the trad regencies I’ve read about faux hoydens it’s a delight to find a real one. Or at least the people of her age would consider her one.

  3. Estara
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 16:22:54

    Oh another interesting author discovered. Thanks!

  4. R E G
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 17:35:35

    Jayne – Have you read Rose Trelawny? It’s one of my favourites by Smith for exactly that knack of turning conventions upside down.

    In it, our heroine, suffering from amnesia, ends up at the local lord’s house because as she retorts to a famous gossip .. ” it was commonly said he was richer..(than the curate.)

    Apparantly unaware stray amnesiacs should be modest, humble, helpful etc. she sets about redecorating, throwing parties and ordering her host family around.

    I’ve re-read it countless times.

  5. Jayne
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 18:08:42

    @R E G: No, I’ve never read it but it sounds delish. Thanks for the rec. Will have to look for it soon.

  6. Suzanne Allain
    Nov 09, 2009 @ 21:02:17

    I love Joan Smith, but this one was never one of my favorites. There are a few of her heroines who are a little too know-it-all-ish for me, and Marion was one of them. I also wasn’t too fond of “Olivia” for the same reason. However, even my least favorite Joan Smith is still pretty darn good.

    I, too, would recommend “Rose Trelawney.” Two other similar adventure stories that I loved were “Endure My Heart” and “Minuet.” But for witty repartee, I think “Talk of the Town” and “Imprudent Lady” were two of her best.

    Sigh. I love Joan Smith. Did I already mention that?

  7. Jayne
    Nov 10, 2009 @ 05:23:22

    @Suzanne Allain: “Imprudent Lady” is the bomb. I read it years ago and should probably pull it out for a reread soon. “Aunt Sophie’s Diamonds” is another favorite of mine.

  8. Fauzia Amena
    Feb 18, 2010 @ 03:17:16

    I haven’t read this one by Joan Smith, but I am definitely going to do that now.

    Can you people recommend any more authors similar to Joan Smith, with clean and good Regency stories.

  9. Jayne
    Feb 18, 2010 @ 05:02:41

    @Fauzia Amena: I’m not sure what you mean by “clean” but I’m assuming you prefer no sex in the story. You could try browsing through the Regency authors here at Regency Reads.

    Most of these authors started at Signet writing traditional regencies which usually did not include any (or very little) sex in the story. Of the authors here I can recommend Joan Smith, Barbara Metzger, Patricia Wynn, Laura Matthews, Joan Wolf and Sheri Cobb South.

    Good Ton – – is another site packed with information about the older, trad style, books.

    This is a review site I recently stumbled upon that might offer some other title suggestions.

  10. Fauzia Amena
    Feb 18, 2010 @ 11:43:36

    Yeah, Jayne that is what I was referring to. I don’t mind a bit of passion in my stories, but some of the current regencies being published have way too much sex, with hardly any repartee between the main characters.

    Thanks for the info, I am already familiar with Joan Wolf and Barbara Metzger.But will definitely check out the others mentioned.(New authors to be added to be read list..Woohoo)

    One another author who is really impressive is Carla Kelly, because her regencies deal with the major issues of the Regency period.

  11. PJ
    Apr 17, 2010 @ 13:52:22

    Memoirs of a Hoyden is my very favorite Regency. My copy is old and tattered because I’ve reread it many times. It’s a true comfort read for me, and I always laugh out loud at a couple of points throughout. I love first person, as this book is — getting inside the heroine’s head and experiencing the story through her eyes, and Marion, as she goes through life with a battering ram, is a delight. I wish there were more books like this one.

  12. Kagama
    Feb 16, 2012 @ 17:32:47

    @Jayne: I love that one too :) Apperantly Joan Smith based the characters of Prudence and Lord Dammler after Jane Austen and Lord Byron (albeit toned down)

    Just imagine if that had happened in real life @-@

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