REVIEW: A Curious Courting by Laura Matthews
Dear Ms. Matthews:
I am writing this letter today because I fear that the readership believes that I am a suspense thriller junkie who only likes boring police procedure stories interrupted by bouts of hot sex. I mean, yeah, that is me, but I also like to mix things up a bit. You are a traditional regency writer. If you were being published today . . . Well, I guess that’s a silly thing to say because you wouldn’t be published today because you do write traditional regencies but I think there is a readership out there today so I am thankful for Belgrave House for reissuing your books in ebook format.
A Curious Courting is set in Leicestershire, Quorn(hunting) country. Mr. Gareth Rushton is visiting his good friend, Sir Penrith Southwood. It’s important for me to note that until I started reading these older traditional Regencies, outside of a Heyer book, I hadn’t seen a mere mister be cast as a hero. It goes to show that it doesn’t matter what title you give a man. Mr. Rushton comes from a distinguished background and from one of the oldest families in England. The gossip is that Mr. Rushton offered for a Miss Longmead but she “showed him the door.” Mr. Rushton’s response is to purchase land and build a completely male residence with no feminine accoutrements. Sir Penrith is quite a savvy man and understands that this is the result of Mr. Rushton’s piqued feelings even if Rushton refuses to admit it.
Rushton reminded me a bit of Darcy in his priggishness and self righteousness. Rushton invariably thought he was right and was often being set off guard by Selena, Miss Easterly-Cummings. Miss E-C as Rushton refers to her in his journal, is a wealthy single woman of age 23 whose father died some time ago and left her “pots of money.” When Selena was 18, her young cousin was involved in a terrific accident coming to her father’s funeral. Young Henry’s parents died and Selena took over Henry’s care when Henry’s guardian took a disgust of Henry. Henry did not survive the accident unscathed, but with a physical disability. Worried that Henry’s guardian would deem her too young to be Henry’s caregiver, Selena threw off any remnant of youth.
Everyone wonders a bit why Selena dresses and acts like such an eccentric, never giving into much frivolity when she is one of the area’s greatest beauties. When Rushton comes into Selena’s life, Henry is 16 and is chafing at Selena’s supervision. Selena herself recognizes that she really cannot provide Henry the guidance he may need to make a man of himself but she bristles at the idea that Rushton can. Rushton himself rarely knows what to make of Selena and they often find themselves grating on the others’ last nerve. We readers know that this constant aggravation hides the deeper attraction that neither are willing to acknowledge.
At some point, Rushton recognizes that he loves Selena and he begins to court her. Unfortunately, Selena doesn’t realize that she is being courted and misreads all of his actions. These moments provide some immense hilarity.
The greatest thing about your books is that they seem so historically accurate. I have no idea if they are, but the characters all act and talk like I imagine them to have acted and talked in the 1800s. They use period appropriate colloquialisms:
“Lord, Assheton Smith does give one a good day, what?”
“Would you care to ride into Barton to enquire”
“Devil of a nuisance ”
“A complete hand . . .”
You get the idea. Everyone addresses other appropriately so that when the hero and heroine actually use each other’s Christian names, its meaningful. This is a quiet love story, but as you do in most of your stories you show us that the characters truly understand each other, the good and the bad and that they both love each other because of those attributes. Thanks to you for writing these “true” regencies and thanks to Belgrave House for making them available long after the first date of publication.