REVIEW: An Early Engagement by Barbara Metzger
Adventurous Lady Emilyanne had no one but Viscount Stokely to turn to when her guardian tried to force her to marry his awful stepson. So the viscount married her while on leave and returned to his army unit. Which left Lady Em to attend to estate and ton matters pretty much as she saw fit—even if he didn’t quite agree with her methods. Regency Romance by Barbara Metzger; originally published by Fawcett Crest
Dear Ms. Metzger,
This is another of your books that I’m now going back and rereading. There have been Issues going on in my life and I felt I needed a good comfort read. This gave it to me. It’s funny but also has some serious things as well. But mostly it’s funny.
Emilyann and Everett are engaged as children (hence, an early engagement) by their fathers and grow up together til she’s sent to a ladies school and he heads off to school, then London, then the war. Emilyann’s father breaks off the betrothal when Everett’s father tups Em’s companion in the library. When Em’s father dies, her greedy and soulless uncle schemes to get his hands on her inheritance and insists that she marry his clunch of a stepson due to the way Em’s father wrote his will.
Just a note here that the will and the way Em’s father’s Ducal title was dealt with probably couldn’t have actually happened. Also Em and Ev later discuss an annulment which probably wouldn’t have worked. And Em’s awful uncle, in a bid to get rid of either Em and/or his preachy wife (in order to beget an heir himself) ponders if either black widow spiders or venomous snakes might be found – none of which I believe existed then in England. While usually these types of things would drive me batty, here I just didn’t care because I like the book so much.
To escape marrying Bobo (as they call him) Em heads to London where she catches Ev before he heads back to Europe and the fighting. A MoC results and Em heads back to her husband’s estate to try her hand at managing it and her money in spite of all of Ev’s directives and decrees. When he finally gets back to London, he discovers a mature, intelligent beautiful woman in the place of the ragamuffin he married and realizes that he’s going to have to woo this bride of his in order for the marriage to be the love match he desires. There’s some more stuff about how Ev heads back to Europe in time for Waterloo and how Em’s uncle is still scheming to get her money.
It’s fun to watch Em drive Ev to distraction as she blithely ignores all his increasingly frantic missives from the battlefront and as he learns that his wife is a desirable woman. Em is that type of heroine whom everyone (except for her terrible uncle) loves. She’s already married so the wives don’t fear her, she grew up knowing all the men in power in London through her father, she’s kind to the spotty youths, and sees that the shy debs have dance partners. She salvages Ev’s estate, finds out what Ev’s brother wants to do in life (raise hogs), brings out Ev’s gudgeon of a younger sister, redoes his townhome, and finally wins over his batman when she arrives in full spate to help nurse Ev back to health.
Ev is about the only one who doesn’t quite know what he thinks of Em. They’ve been friends forever, he thinks Em is pluck to the backbone, knows she can’t sew (and was willing to bribe his mother’s companion to finish Em’s samplers), but Em also drives him to distraction by ignoring his missives from the war (until after she’s done what he tells her not to). His most recent sightings of Em were as a young teen and a seventeen year old in grimy clothes with her hair chopped off. When confronted with the delight she’s grown into, Ev is stumped. He’s longing to make her his wife but not quite sure that he shouldn’t give Em an annulment so she can find a man she loves.
Of course Em has her own feelings about this but because Smokey (her childhood name for him) hasn’t told her how he feels, she doesn’t tell him her growing feelings. All London is watching the married couple to see what’s going to happen while they are dodging all kinds of spurious “accidents” (similar in nature to those in “Miss Lockharte’s Letters”). Thankfully this time both MCs are a bit more quick on the uptake about them.
There’s a bit of having these two at loggerheads that thankfully doesn’t go on too long. But I like the way they slowly start to move closer together and complement each other so well. Em is smart, allowed to be smart, and Ev acknowledges how smart and clever she is. Loyal servants and a pug round out the fun. B