by Candice Hern
Amazon Kindle Edition
Rating: * * * & bonus 1/2 (for not being annoying)
Kindle Note: As of today, July 11, this book is free for Kindle.
In Brief: Emily Townsend, gently bred but impoverished, serves as a paid companion to Lady Bradleigh. The dowager countess is distressed when she learns that her grandson, Robert, has affianced himself to a very young lady with a very grasping family. Lady Bradleigh would rather see him marry her companion — but how to convince him of that and, worse, how can he extricate himself from his disastrous engagement? And will Emily ever believe she is a worthy bride, given her status in life?
I thought: Emily is a bit of a Mary Sue. Her every action is imbued with nobility and quiet sacrifice, and it makes it a little difficult to relate to her. There don’t seem to be any rough edges. Robert, on the other hand, is introduced as an unrepentant rake, but we don’t see much of that behavior, either. And Lady Bradleigh is a somewhat sarcastic, meddling-but-in-a-good-way matchmaker. In short, the characters are lacking in realism. Yet they manage to be likable enough.
The general prototypicality of the hero and heroine means that there aren’t too many moments of tension about whether they’ll end up together. Of course, there’s really never any doubt when reading a romance novel, but some of them still manage to have me on the edge of my seat. This didn’t, but on the other hand, neither did it have the 800 annoying contrived obstacles sometimes found in books of this genre.
The motivations of the villains were fairly transparent, and they were easily handled. I didn’t get any real sense of urgency when the hero had to go deal with them; in fact, he sort of lingered about so all the loose plot ends could be wrapped up before he went off to rescue Emily. Bit odd, and that was the only part of the book that really had me shaking my head a bit.
Something I did appreciate was that the hero and heroine didn’t hit the hay on page 100 and immediately realize they had to have each other; their growing relationship did feel like it was based on something besides base lust. I actually believed they were falling in love, and my heart was racing a few times during the fairly tame love scenes (comparatively, nothing too explicit here — kind of a welcome change).
Overall it was a pleasant, quick read. It didn’t exactly leave me wanting more, but I didn’t regret the time spent reading. Everything was pleasantly fluffy, and sometimes that’s all you need. There are plenty of detailed descriptions of Regency fashions, which I enjoyed reading. Unlike a lot of free/cheap Kindle editions, it’s not riddled with typos, although there is a frequent substitution of the letter “d” for “ct” (I think — now that I’m looking back through, I can’t find examples).
Certainly worth picking up for free, if you have any interest in Regency romances; I will definitely check out some of Ms. Hern’s other work.