Reviewed for Affaire de Coeur Magazine. http://affairedecoeur.com.
Thanks to NetGalley and to Candem Hill Press for providing me an ARC copy of this novella that I freely chose to review.
This is a Regency romance that I decided to read in part as research for a project, and also because it sounded and looked a bit different to many of the books in the genre (no couple on the cover, and, especially, no bare-chested male). Indeed this is a ‘sweet’ or ‘clean’ romance, although as some reviewers have noted, the strongest relationship in the story is that between Catherine, a young orphaned girl whose financial circumstances are extremely precarious at the beginning of the story, and her brother, John, a couple of years her junior, who fell from a horse when he was a child and now suffers from physical disabilities that make a normal life impossible. (He can move about with some difficulty and needs assistance to complete some complex tasks, although he is a fighter and manages better than people think when they meet him). The little money left by her parents has almost gone and she is wondering about the future. Although she is hopeful about getting a position for herself, she cannot see any options that would allow her to carry on looking after her brother. When an invitation to spend Christmas with a wealthy school friend arrives, Catherine starts making all kinds of plans in her head.
The story is short but manages to paint a detail picture of the conditions Catherine and her brother live in, of the arrangements she has to make to try and make do by modifying her mother’s old dresses, and then also about the huge contrast between their lives and that of her friend Katie and her family. (At times it made me think of Dickens but without going to extremes).This allows readers to see things from Catherine’s point of view and to appreciate the huge gap that existed in the society of the time between the haves and the have-nots. (It also reminded me of one of my favourite stories by Louisa May Alcott, An Old-Fashioned Girl, which I recommend). We also realise how unforgiving and intolerant the society of the time was of those suffering any type of disabilities, and it is impossible not to cringe at some of the comments the siblings have to endure.
The story shares some characteristics with a fairy-tale (there is something of Cinderella about Catherine, although at least she does not have a cruel stepmother), and also with a morality-tale, where Catherine’s innocence and her devotion to her brother are rewarded in the end.
The Christmas part of the story works well, and we hear about a Christmas log, there is a trip to find mistletoe, carollers come along to the mansion, and we have some wondrous descriptions of foods of the period.
As for the love story… Well, we soon realise Katie’s brother seems interested in Catherine, although she has not been exposed to society and cannot work out if he is flirting, laughing at her, or really interested. There is a misunderstanding that has the most wonderful consequences for all involved (one hopes, anyway), but while we get some sense of who Catherine is and some indication of her brother’s thoughts and feelings, we do not get to know the rest of the characters too well, but the indications are positive.
In sum, this is a short read, full of detail about the contrast between high and low-income lives at the time, set during Christmas, and it does a good job of bringing to life the Christmas spirit. It might not satisfy those looking for a passionate love story although it shows strong sibling relationships and has a likeable and self-sacrificing heroine (think Melanie in Gone with the Wind), and there is no sex or bad language. Recommended if you’re looking for a short feel-good Christmas story set in the Regency period.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me an ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.
I do not read many novels in this genre, but I am due to translate a novel in the genre from Spanish into English and wanted to do some research by reading some modern novels set in the period.
I have not read any of the other novels in the series, although I understand, from reading some of the reviews, that it is quite popular.
The story seems to be one of opposite attracts, with the man being a stickler for facts and lover of adventures, while the woman loves fantasy and is afraid of travel. As we get to know the characters, we realise that Gloria is knowledgeable and both share a love for technology and astronomy. When she ends up being his matchmaker, we know what to expect. There is love at first sight, a sex-scene that it is explicit but not as detailed as others I have read (and of course, it is wonderful even if it is the first time for her, at least), and a happy ending as required. I quite liked the characters, although they were both quite extreme in their positions, and the speed at which things developed between them required some suspension of disbelief, but I don’t think it was beyond the standards of the genre.
The story is told in the third person, without relying too heavily on descriptions, but provides enough details to help us imagine a romantic setting that perfectly suits the story. It flows well, and it has the usual will they/won’t they moments, without going over the top and making readers get impatient.
A short and light read, with engaging characters and fun moments and although the story is not outstanding for its originality, it should satisfy fans of the genre.
The Crawfords #1, I love books where one of the main characters hides part of who they are and fall in love, I always like how they redeem themselves to the other person. In this Caleb Crawford has finally comes home after studying architecture in France to prove his father wrong only to find out both his father and older brother died in a fire and he has now inherited the Dukedum. After trying for a couple of months, Caleb is at his breaking point he needs some time away from being the duke. His best friend Viscount Aldridge, has the solution, his sister lives out in the country with two other women and take care of orphan children. Seeing as how Aldridge's sister has never meet Caleb he just introduces himself as Mr. Crawford the new caretaker.
Mary Clemens, the daughter of a tradesman who became extraordinarily wealthy, got burned by society. She thought she fell in love with a man above her social standing but he let his father ruin the relationship and the father spread horrid rumors about her all over London. Her only escape was to disappear from London society and to live with her friend in the country and help children in need. Mary knowing her reputation was irreparably damaged she figured she'd never marry so she created a life with her two friends that was satisfying. The appearance of Mr. Crawford unsettled her because he aroused feeling in her she never had before and the fact that he was a laborer and not from society was perfect but she keeps misreading his intentions. Caleb knows Mary is special and it doesn't take him long to figure out he wants to marry her, but with her dislike of society he has to find away to reveal who he really is without completely destroying her faith in him. Unfortunately that option is taken out of his hands and now he has to repair the damage done.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. The characters were great. Mary even though she is a strong, opinionated, plain spoken kind of woman is so use to everything be blamed on her she keeps doubting everything. Caleb dealing with his newfound status in society and figuring out that he doesn't have to let the Dukeship define and dictate who he really is. I liked the set up with Caleb's brothers with at least two more books coming I look forward to Devlin's book. The epilogue felt off it was set so far in their future it would have made more sense to be at the end of the series with a wrap up of everyone's lives and not just these two and their kids. It feels so final and I don't want to feel that at the end of book one.
I enjoyed this Historical Romance but found it a little slow going a few places. I voluntarily chose to review this and I've given it a 4.5* rating. There are two heroines and two hero's in this story. I found it a little unbelievable to be true in how it worked out. However, it did have a nice ending. This is also No. 25 of the Pure Read Clean Read Vol. 2 bundle of 41. On to the next.