REVIEW: The Toast of the Town by Alice Chetwynd Ley
The beautiful Georgiana Eversley is well aware of her intoxicating power over men…
With her tawny hair and dancing green eyes, many fall for her instantly. She takes it for granted that she could captivate any man who catches her fancy, though few men do. The likes of Mr Curshawe tire her, and she tolerates the wealthy Viscount Pamyngton, but no man amongst her many admirers brings that magic Georgy so desperately wishes for.
But when there is a collision between Georgiana and the handsome young Dr. John Graham, sparks fly. He lets it be known that he doesn’t care for her at all, and Georgiana’s hurt pride demands revenge. She accepts a daring wager from to prove that she could indeed entice the young doctor…and jilt him savagely as well.
But Georgiana is unaware of the whims of passion and unprepared for the events that ensue. Could this be what Georgiana has waited for all her life? Or is she destined to be in the comforting arms of Viscount Pamyngton?
Georgiana is a vibrant, radiant but restless young woman of good family in Regency England. Georgy is not the kind of woman to abide standing around being bored. Oh yes, she’s the heroine so that means something – probably irrepressible – will be afoot soon. She’s also publicly declared, at a ball, that she has no desire to wed – despite 6, no make that 7 since one man proposed twice – offers of marriage from men of their polite society. And since she is overheard by one of the men as she informs her sister-in-law Susan about this – la but what will happen between them next? Her brother offhandedly jokes with his wife that this means Georgy’ll assuredly fall in love with someone “totally ineligible.”
Queue Portending Music.
Sure enough who shows up next but a social disaster of a sporting Scotsman doctor unused to the London ton whose actions cause Georgy no end of amusement on the dance floor. We readers all know how this will end but, gracious me, what is the path true love will follow to get there?
Yes, the next time they meet, it’s Georgy who makes the misstep with John Graham. Furthermore, her actions almost cause harm to Susan which makes her feel guilty and thus act out further when she realizes she’s in the wrong. For once she is not the Incomparable whose every wish will be catered to by eager men but instead a disgruntled young women thoroughly put out by the high handed man who comes to their rescue. Not put off by her icy tones or haughty manner he twits her more than a bit. To him she’s a termagant while to her he’s the greatest beast in nature whom she never wants to set eyes on again.
One thing that can be said about Georgy, she’s honest with herself to a fault and soon acknowledges, at least to herself, she was in the wrong and is truly remorseful about involving her pregnant sister-in-law and former school chum in her high spirited curricle drive. Whether or not her eldest brother will let this pass is another question.
Georgy hasn’t heard the last of John Graham though, especially since her brothers have a sense of humor – Freddie tells her she’s mad as a hatter and has a devil of a temper, besides – and admire the man who can resist her charms, high spirits and good looks. Things are about to get interesting. Aunt Lavinia might sniff at asking the “leech” to dine with them but damn it, he was at Oxford with Georgy and Hugh’s brother and is related to some Scottish Laird – with an unpronounceable name – so he’s a gentleman. Yep, looks like Georgy and John will be tossed together because there’s soon a bet on, proposed by Freddie as a lark. Georgy must bring John Graham to romantic heel or lose the bet and since John doesn’t dote on her as do her usual swain, she’ll have her work cut out.
So by now, Georgy is coming off as a snobbish miss who needs a good set-down. Of course John is just the man to administer it. John is no fool and immediately wonders just what it is that Georgy, who was about to verbally gut him the day before, is up to with her sudden charms and graces. Her society drones who have been used to paying court to her are confused as well. John might not fall for her swooning much to Georgy’s chagrin and angry as she is, she hardly notices that he’s the only man who won’t kowtow around her.
Georgy isn’t used to men not falling at her feet – even if she doesn’t really want them to and is bored by tame lapdogs. Ooooh, she’ll get the best of John Graham. After thinking things out, her plan is set only to be overset putting her in John’s presence and from her bravery and quick wits, earning her his admiration without any wiles or schemes. It also gives them a chance to talk and Georgy to vent her frustration at society not offering her, and ladies of Quality like her, anything meaningful to do unlike John who has told her what drew him to a life of medicine.
Of course their actions and reactions don’t go unnoticed and soon others, if not the two people themselves begin to wonder and speculate on their relationship. Most of them Georgy feels she can ignore but her brother Hugh’s comments strike close to the bone and raise her feelings of guilt for she basically “has a kind and generous nature sometimes obfuscated by allowing her tongue to outrun discretion.”
Family plays a large role in this story. Georgy is surrounded by hers here and despite little flare ups and loving familial disdain between sisters and brothers, they do care about and watch out for each other. When need be, Hugh can act the elder brother and call his younger siblings to account but it’s not done meanly but rather from concern both for them and the people involved with them. It is he who questions Georgy in the way she’s acted towards John. Georgy does have enough sense to talk with John about life on his small salary and he to insist that she take it seriously and to wonder how her family will react. But then the looming Big Mis falls on them, flattening their declarations of love like pancakes as someone with a need to strike out takes his revenge. Oh, dear.
Two people both with strong personalities clash headlong over love, former intentions and misconceptions. I’d felt slightly uneasy with Georgy’s former school friend now a sister-in-law and acting the married lady but Susan comes up trumps when it counts and engineers these two together by taking a chance. I like that both are fully aware of the (current) difference in their social standing and are thinking clearly when making their decisions. When they finally talk, they’re honest, up front and level headed – while still being totally committed and in love. The Big Mis – never my favorite – annoys a little but overall this one surprised me in how much I liked it despite Georgy sometimes acting spoiled and headstrong – but at least she’s consistent from the first book without the dreaded personality change for her own story. B