REVIEW: Lord Roworth’s Reward (Rothschild Trilogy #2) by Carola Dunn
Sharing Brussels lodgings with a penniless officer and his admirable sister Fanny, the impoverished Felix, Lord Roworth, liaises between Rothschild and Wellington while courting Lady Sophia, a well-dowered beauty. Fanny laughs at his toplofty ways, yet when she desperately needs his help, Felix finds the Goddess’s image fading as he rushes to the rescue. [Rothschild Trilogy #2, following Miss Jacobson’s Journey] Regency Romance by Carola Dunn; originally published by Zebra and titled His Lordship’s Reward
Dear Ms. Dunn,
Though I had read the precursor in this trilogy, “Miss Jacobson’s Journey,” I’d never followed up with the next book which picks up several years later. I will admit that my hesitation was due to the man I knew would be the hero – the man who had grown and changed a lot over the course of the first book but whom I was still a little wary of seeing as the hero. Lord Roworth won me over here but it took a while.
Ah Felix, Felix, Felix. Let’s say at the start of this book Felix is improving but is also still a work in progress. Felix began his character life in Miss Jacobson’s Journey as an impoverished yet still snobbish aristocrat who was horrified that he would be working with, much less traveling with, Jews. That got (believably) straightened out by the ending and now Felix still holds a slightly glimmering torch for Miriam (now happily married). Due to his connections, Felix is currently employed by and has worked hard for the Rothschilds as they finance Wellington, Louis XVIII, and something to do with the (cheapskate) Hanoverians. I never was quite sure about that last bit. Anyway Felix begins this book mooning over a Ton “Diamond” while also having a Flemish “bit on the side” (all consensual and she apparently loves how proficient Felix is in bed). By this point, I’m sure some of you readers have written Felix off. There were (many) times when I wanted to smack him, too.
Fanny is the quintessential all around competent heroine. She and her brother are the children of an artillery officer who actually worked for a living rather than just strutting about in a fancy dress uniform (lots of these get described as apparently we need to know the color of the coats and facings of the various regiments) or standing around in Wellington’s headquarters like some characters in the book. After a lifetime of following the drum, Fanny is efficient, calm, experienced in making do and appreciative of what she has when she has it. Yet Fanny is not made into some selfless martyr as she freely expresses, via facial expressions she doesn’t bother to hide or sotto voce comments, what she thinks of some people and their thoughts and actions. Go, Fanny.
Fanny’s brother Frank (there’s a funny story about their names) is an artillery officer who, perforce, must be with the guns which are outside of Brussels so this means he can be there when the plot needs him and off at a distance when that is required. The last addition to the boarding house where they all live is young Anita, the orphaned, natural daughter of one of Frank’s officer friends who died in Spain. Anita does the “baby talk” thing and does it often. On the other hand, she does “act” like a three and a half year old (mostly sweet but she does have her moments of meltdowns). YMMV on this and remember that it seems that part of her plan in this plot is to show how unselfish and open minded Fanny and Frank are for taking in this orphaned moppet, how Felix accepts her and defends her to others who would denigrate her, and more importantly to note who does denigrate her.
The book is basically divided into three sections. Part one details the last few weeks before the Battle of Waterloo. Our characters are skillfully woven into the fabric of life in Brussels as Wellington and his staff try to keep everyone calm – including the people of Brussels so they aren’t tempted to defect to France – by doing the Social pretty, going to cricket games, picnics, and planning balls all while we’re kept apprised of what type of uniform the officers are wearing. Honestly, this was a bit tedious. We also get to see how Felix has matured since we saw him last. He respects Nathan Rothschild as well as the Jewish couriers who race back and forth across the channel bringing more gold for the troops as well as carrying information that Felix helps gather.
Felix is also attempting to elbow his way into her crowd of suitors to court his starchy Diamond, a woman who cuts him publicly when she sees him with impoverished Fanny and Anita. Felix tries to make excuses for her to Fanny after which she rolls her eyes. There’s no moss growing on Fanny. She also manages to hide her feelings for Felix from him which really isn’t that hard as Felix is a clunch where his romantic feelings are concerned.
In part two we have The Battle as experienced by those still in Brussels with confusing and contradictory bits of information reaching them even as gunsmoke haze still shrouds the combat before the desperately wounded, along with the news of victory, arrive. Felix shows some real stuff as he rushes to help his friends before heading back to England to carry the news to Nathan Rothschild. Despite the fact that he’s free and clear now with a sizable draft from Rothschild in his pocket, Felix can’t stop thinking of how Fanny is managing with a wounded brother and young child in Brussels.
In part three everything finally comes together. Plus we get to see Miriam, Isaac, their children and their lovely life together. Yay! While Felix might have thought he had finally thrown off the restrictive attitudes of his upbringing, alas, no he hasn’t quite. The people who matter might realize whom he really loves (the woman in question certainly does) but Felix has a bit more growing to do. I love the way that the timing of it all occurs. He arrives at his true feelings by himself (though helped along slightly by his delightful sisters and Miriam) and declares himself (although a bit shakily) before a certain bit of information (which we were all waiting for) is revealed.
I think this book is mainly about Felix doing his final character growth spurt. Fanny is certainly a fabulous female character who is strong, principled, and not (except where her love for Felix is concerned) going to stand for any shit but she doesn’t change much over the course of the story. She’s great at the start and at the end. But Felix really comes into himself as a person and at last I can cheer for him as a hero who is worthy of the reward of Fanny’s love. B-