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Regency Romance

REVIEW:  The Weaver Takes a Wife by Sheri Cobb South

REVIEW: The Weaver Takes a Wife by Sheri Cobb South

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Beautiful, haughty Lady Helen Radney is the daughter of a duke who has gambled away his fortune. The duke’s plan is to marry her off to recoup his losses, but the only one interested in this sharp-tongued lady is Mr. Ethan Brundy. Once a workhouse orphan, Brundy is now the owner of a Lancashire textile mill, a very rich man–and smitten with Helen.

Dear Ms. Cobb South,

I vividly remember when I first heard about this book. Back then, I was a faithful visitor to AAR and closely perused their DIK list in my quest to expand my romance reading lists. After reading their review, I immediately added “The Weaver Takes a Wife” to my handwritten TBB list and began searching for it in local stores. I searched high and I searched low. I went through new book stores and used book stores and finally had to order it. But oh, when I finally got my hands on it, I fell in love with Ethan Brundy and his ‘elen. Now newcomers to the series can buy the ebook with a few mouse clicks – lucky devils.

The book might be a touch of Almackistan but not by much. Indeed, it still sticks to the conventions of the genre while at the same time turning them on their heads. It has a non-Duke hero with a lower class accent but manages to include a trip to Almacks. The hero is finally dandified in a form fitting evening coat but it’s not from Weston. The aristocratic heroine might have her nose in the air but she ultimately falls in love with her workhouse brat husband. It is an homage to La Heyer yet carves out a new niche in Regency romance.

Ethan is such a wonderful hero. He’s unfailingly cheerful, mostly happy with his lot in life, aware that things could be so much worse and willing to help those he can. He also seems to be a shrewd businessman, an excellent judge of character and a true romantic. His friends in the ton adore him, including his friend’s lady love who is willing to teach him how to waltz so he can dance with his wife. He makes people want to do better and also pricks the conscience of those in a position to help craft new laws for the poor and working class. And Ethan even helps his friend come to the sticking point with his own romance.

He initially lets drop how much he values ‘elen in terms she’d understand – to the tune of £75,000 – but later reveals his heart when asked why no woman in Lancashire had snatched him up and he’d moved to London – because that’s where ‘elen was. Ethan, more than most men, is aware that nothing worth having is easily obtained so he’s ready to put in the work to win ‘elen’s ‘eart.

“What could one do with a man who merely smiled at one in a way that made one feel suddenly hot and cold all at the same time?”

He astounds ‘elen by simply not recognizing his inferior status. Ah, but she has to learn that this is because he never feels about himself that way except where her love might be concerned.

Mr Brundy might be a man of low birth but he’s also a man of the highest integrity, resourcefullness and determination. He gently waits for his wife’s regard, all the while showing her his worth by his actions as well as his words. Indeed, bit by bit, day by day, gesture and deed by gesture and deed, he shows up almost everyone who would dismiss him as merely a workhouse brat.

Folks this is unconditional love. Does ‘elen deserve it? Frankly early on in the marriage, I wanted to shake her. However one can’t stay too mad at her since she’s probably never known a man as wonderful as Ethan – though her brother shows signs of being salvageable.

‘elen’s changing opinion comes slowly but so clearly – to us and to Ethan – that her brusqueness is easy to bear because we all know she’s falling in love with her besotted husband. She worries about the Luddites and defends him against her former beau Waverly’s sneering.

She discovers she likes the look of his face when it’s not hidden behind an epergne. She sees how his workers adore him and why and strives to present him in London to them in the best light possible. She sees he’s kind to children in a way she and her brother never experienced while growing up. She mourns a honeymoon trip to Brighton because she worries about Ethan thinking she’s using him to help her brother then finally thrills to his KISA rescue. By book’s end, she has realized, and happily admits, that he’s the finest true gentleman she’s ever known.

I love this book because it not only tells me about all the characters but it shows me all their flaws, foibles and strengths. It’s storytelling in action, it’s alive with movement rather than feeling static. It’s funny (watch for the hilarious below stairs view of the marriage through the morning reports of upstairs maid Sukey to the housekeeper Mrs.Givens) as well as heartfelt and by the time ‘elen decides she’d rather not wait the full six months (you’ll see what I mean), I’m bursting with happiness for them and the love they’ve found.

I adored this book 15 years ago and after a blissful reread, I can say that it’s just as good the second time around. A

~Jayne

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REVIEW:  The Anonymous Miss Addams by Kasey Michaels

REVIEW: The Anonymous Miss Addams by Kasey Michaels

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He was London’s most eligible–and outrageous–bachelor. But though Pierre Standish didn’t give a whit for polite society, he could not deny his father’s latest request. To prove himself a true gentleman, Pierre had to perform a random good deed. The task proved unimaginatively easy when, en route to London, Pierre came upon a damsel lying in the road. Her clothes bespoke her an urchin, but although his anonymous Miss Addams had lost her memory, Pierre was certain she was a well-bred lady. A lady whose innocence and plight might just ensnare the ton’s most unattainable rogue.

Dear Ms. Michaels,

Years ago I read and enjoyed some of your early trad regencies and remember them as being funny and light reading. When I was smack in the middle of a longer, non-fiction, war torn story, I needed a break, a breather, something to lighten my spirits before plunging back into world war. Ha! I thought. I got a number of Kasey Michaels’ older trad regencies a while ago when I saw them for sale at eHarlequin. That’s the ticket.

The intriguing intro bit got things off to an good start – what’s going on here, who are these people talking so calmly about killing and what’s the relationship of these two? I quickly flipped the page, eager to discover the answers.

Then opening chapter drops like a brick. What is this? Is this lengthy scene about this book? No, obviously it’s explaining something from the past so why have it here? It seems that it’s one huge info dump about another book’s events. The whole time I’m plowing through it, in the back of my mind I’m hearing the mechanical voice intoning “stall, stall, stall” and the sounds of the plane going down.

Thankfully the engine then sputtered back to life and this one got cranking with an interesting set up of the hero Pierre being admonished by his father to accomplish two Good Deeds. As he’s headed back to London, the opportunity to achieve them quickly arrives when Pierre saves an apprenticed chimney sweep from an oppressive master and finds an unconscious young woman in the middle of the road.

Lots of fast paced dialog followed. I enjoyed the valet Duval and Pierre’s repartee. I was not so enamored of the sweep Holloway’s cant but then too much cant usually does me in, even in a Heyer novel. Caroline is a plucky heroine who verbally gives as good as she gets. She doesn’t ever let Pierre off the hook that way and I liked their linguistic battles.

The mystery of who Those People from the intro are and what they are up to isn’t bad. The battle royale between Caroline and Pierre is great fun. At this point my impression was that they’re evenly matched, meant for each other and they’ll have a lifetime of pitched volleys ahead of them. I was even okay with the amnesia plot which usually sends me screaming.

Unfortunately then the book faltered a bit later as the truth begins to be revealed and after another nod to a past book dumps more returning characters in the mix. This is when I got annoyed and wanted to slap the smug off Pierre and his father for all the reasons the ladies blow up at them for. Even with both women practically imploring them to tell who amnesiac Caroline is, they’re too clever for their own britches. Men! But then Pierre goes into morose self flagellation mode over not telling Caroline about the danger she was in. At this point I do agree with his father in snapping him out of it. Then I had to remind myself that he’s had a lifetime of self satisfaction ingrained in him so what could I expect.

The final resolution of the mystery is tongue-in-cheek fun and I do approve of the way Pierre handles the whole drama but by this time, his high handedness earlier had left it’s mark on my opinion of the whole. I finished the book hoping that Caroline gives him daily grief and brings him down a peg. Or two. C+

~Jayne

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