REVIEW: Summer Escapade by Charlotte Louise Dolan
Marigold Kinderley’s uncle kept her wrapped in cotton wool. So Lady Sylvia found a way to take Marigold home with her for summer break. When Terence Kinderley discovered Marigold missing, he assumed she had fled to the border with the dancing master. Sylvia’s mother Alicia discovered the deception. Though Alicia and Terence were attracted to each other, she kept her secret when he returned.
Originally published in the anthology “A Regency Summer”
Dear Ms. Dolan,
I bought this novella a year ago based on the strength of a remembered trad Regency of yours that I read years ago. Looking at this blurb now … it seems to be a bit of a mess. Thankfully the story is actually better than it would lead one to believe. In fact, I went into it expecting something very different than what I got.
The basis of the plot is one big misunderstanding. But not the usual misunderstanding that we romance readers are accustomed to. No this misunderstanding centers on one Miss Marigold Kinderley, a fourteen year old student at a young lady’s school in Bath (aside, were all seminaries, academies, and or schools for young ladies in Regency England located in Bath?). Poor Marigold lives a life swaddled in the overprotective rules of her Uncle Terrence. Marigold’s mother died when Marigold was a baby from “something she ate” and within a year, her father died as well leaving her an siblingless orphan. Since she resembles her mother so closely, everyone is “just sure” that Marigold must be like her mother in all things so the list of what she can’t do or eat is endless. Her sole friend Lady Sylvia (who is actually the daughter of a deceased Viscount and thus could not have been a “Lady” by birth) is determined to break Marigold out of a dreary summer.
“Lady” Sylvia is an accomplished actress and can use her words to sway people into believing she said something that she really didn’t. When Uncle Terrence – who, when he arrived to collect his niece, was distracted by meeting an old friend – questions Sylvia at her mother’s residence, Sylvia soon has him headed to Gretna Green to “rescue” Marigold. Alicia, the Dowager Viscountess, also believes her daughter – that is until Marigold unwittingly gives the game away and Alicia rereads some of her daughter’s letters. She would have told Terrence Kinderley when he returned but, after a week with them, Marigold looks so bright and happy now that Alicia can’t bear to think of the poor girl, shut away and doing nothing but embroidery all day while eating pap for meals. Surely a few more weeks of freedom for the girl is worth a little subterfuge?
So here is a regency romance in which the hero and heroine are not “onstage” until many pages into the story and who then spend a great deal of time apart from each other. They do think of each other a great deal plus there are other adults who are plotting matchmaking. In order to believe in the romance, one must swallow “instant attraction” (nope, it’s not insta-lust – remember this was written as a trad Regency) between Alicia and Terrence. One must also be content with the idea that Marigold is fine and happy even as her Uncle appears content to stay with friends and spend time with the lovely widowed Dowager while sending letters to Marigold’s schoolmates trying to track her down. “Responsible adults know Marigold is safe” is something I mentally repeated a time or two as the romance is given a bit more time to gel.
There is a bit of humor here, I had fun watching Marigold emerge from her protective chrysalis and delight in learning to play, the romance is sweet if perhaps the set-up is a bit far-fetched, and this makes me determined to root out that book I read years ago. B-