REVIEW: Miss Lockharte’s Letters by Barbara Metzger
When Rosellen Lockharte, penmanship teacher at a girls school, believes she is dying from influenza, she feverishly pens letters to those who have, through various misdeeds, brought her to this pass. And to forgive them. Well, most of them. Let Lord Stanford bear the responsibility for her death always. Except that he arrives in time to rescue her. Regency Romance by Barbara Metzger; originally published by Signet
Dear Ms. Metzger,
I read this book years ago and decided to pull it out for a reread. A friend of mine once said she found “Miss Lockharte’s Letters” more serious than other Metzger books but it really didn’t seem so to me. I’ve always found an underlying seriousness in your books though you usually deal with it in a more funny manner than other authors. If that makes any sense.
I loved the premise of the book. That someone lets it all loose and holds nothing back. I mean, haven’t you ever wanted to tell some slacker what you really thought of them. Well, Miss Lockharte does. She thinks she’s at death’s door and can see the dead relatives beckoning to her so she gathers all her strength and writes a series of letters (which serve as a form of exposition) to those she felt wronged her and put her in the position of being in a lousy girl’s school where she could catch this (she thought) fatal illness. She has them all sent out to the post and then…she doesn’t die.
Meanwhile, all the letters are being received and having a dramatic impact on the addressees. One of whom is the brother of a former student of Miss Lockharte. He basically gets guilted into going after her at the school and finds on his arrival that she looks like hell and is raving about someone trying to kill her. As a gentleman, he can’t leave her there and decides to bring her back to London and try to find some poor schmuck to unload her on. As it turns out someone is trying to kill her and it all ends in your typical zany style.
The first time though, I loved the hero, a typical stuffed shirt who has no idea what he’s in for. The secondary characters, including two red headed twin disasters, are great fun. The heroine was a bit of a problem in that I felt she went a little overboard trying to maintain her independence. There are the usual animals causing havoc and servants saving their masters.
This time my thoughts are slightly different. I still loved the zingers that Wynn, Viscount Stanford and Rosellen Lockharte hurl at each other. The humor had me in stitches as Rosellen ducks and dodges the attempts on her life leaving a trail of havoc (which really isn’t her fault) in her wake. The friendship between Rosellen and Susan (the hero’s sister and the person who [along with Rosellen’s letters] guilts Wynn into riding down to the school to help her friend). The two twins who really oughtn’t be let out without keepers are prime candidates for British Upper Class Twit of the Year.
Yet there were times when I wanted to bash Wynn when he – yet again – dismissed Rosellen’s claims that someone is trying to kill her. I mean how many near misses can one person be expected to have and it not be intended. Too many coincidences are never just coincidental. He also rails at her in one scene then kisses her without consent though in fairness, from that point he’s a romantic goner and he self flagellates himself for doing this even after Rosellen decks him for it. I also wish that Rosellen’s perfectly understandable reason for repeatedly going to the extreme in denying she needs help had been explained earlier but I guess that would have dampened the growing sparks between the two. Plus it’s obvious from the start that this is a farce.
The final denouement is a wild ride set in motion by a decision Rosellen takes in order to end the threats to her. Some readers might take exception to what she decides to do. The hero certainly initially does though of course it ends well – except for the nation upon whom the villain will be dumped (though thank goodness it’s not the US). But said villain gets stuck with a harpy shrew so perhaps he’ll be busy fending her off to cause problems for anyone else. It’s a fun romp and I still enjoyed the book but maybe not quite as much as before. B