Retro Read: The Country Gentleman by Fiona Hill

The Country Gentleman by Fiona HillAnn Guilfoyleis a wealthy and independent young woman in Regency England, with her life planned before her. She opens her drawing room to what she considers the creme de la creme of thinking people and she intends to marry the exact right man. Then financial tragedy strikes and she finds herself 200 miles from London trying to settle herself into country life, a fate worse than death for a woman who considers herself sophisticated and intellectual. She thinks she can only mock thegentleman farmer Mr. Highet and his “gargantuan” mother. In short, Ann is a snob who thinks this country gentleman beneath her, yet when a different tragedy strikes, this one of the heart, she accepts his offer of help and her attitudes and heart begin to change.
This is not a story full of suspenseful, page-turning moments. The pace is almost as leisurely as the country life about which Hill writes. Yet the way in which Ann grows as a woman is so heart-warming, along with the love story, I have always listed this book among of my top fifty Regencies and worth the reread from time to time.
You will likely only find this sbook in llibraries or used bookstores. I’ve seen it for as little as $.01, which is a pity, and it is a quarter of a century old, definitely among the clean, sweet traditional Regencies of old, with an author who is a master character-driven storyteller.

Laurie Alice Shares A Secret

Laurie Alice here,

This month, I am writing about the first book I ever read by Jo Beverley, a book that got me hooked on Jo as an author.

The Stanforth Secrets.

Stanforth Secrets
Stanforth Secrets

Though the widowed Chloe Stanforth loves her house by the sea, a series of puzzling incidents has left her unsettled and anxious to find a new home. Her situation is complicated by the arrival of her husband’s cousin, for whom she has long harbored a deep and guilty attraction.

Back from the war, Justin Delamere hopes he can finally woo Chloe, until he suspects her guilty of treason-and murder. Can he trust the woman he’s always desired, and can Chloe surrender her most private secrets to the man who controls her freedom and now her heart?

As a long-time mystery lover, the notion of a Regency mystery thrilled me, and this book did not disappoint. I loved all the odd clues and details the author used, so Regency and so country-house mystery. She captures both genres well in this lovely little book.

A couple of months after I read this book, I met Jo Beverley. She had long since moved on from writing traditional Regencies. Indeed, Walker Publishing had stopped publishing Regencies by this time. I told Jo how much I enjoyed the book. After thanking me in her gracious way, she then told me she would never write such a book again. She said having to worry about everyone in the house was too much trouble. “You have to think about all the servants.” Spoken in her lovely Lancastrian accent, “servants” came out almost three syllables with the barest hint of an r on the first emphasized syllable.

The author charmed me nearly as much as that first book and most of her books since.

Although The Stanforth Secrets was published in 1989, it is now available on Amazon. Highly recommended to those who want a clean, traditional Regency romance along with a fun mystery.

Originally posted 9/28/2014.

Barbara Cartland’s “Curse of the Clan” Set in 1822

100_8609Dame Barbara Cartland wrote over 723 books.  Known for setting her novels in the Victorian era, she was an exceptionally popular novelist, peaking in the 1970s.  (I remember my mother reading her novels.)  After recently picking up two Cartland books at a used book sale, I was pleasantly surprised to find  The Curse of the Clan (published in 1977) to be quite satisfying.

Imagine my further delight that the novel is set in 1822.  Set in the late “Regency” to be sure, the tale follows an orphan who is elevated to the title of Scottish Duchess.  Her fearsome, yet handsome husband marries her to gain revenge upon a neighboring clan who foisted an adulterous, now-dead, wife upon him.

The story boomed along with vivid action and upon reflection, would make an excellent movie, if historical films were popular. The scenes at the orphanage, a carriage accident (which affected the plot), a shooting attack, revelation of her true parentage, then the winning over of the husband…all would make for a delightful, picturesque movie.
I got a real kick out of finally trying a Cartland book, and wouldn’t hesitate to read more –especially if I can ferret out which were set in the early 1800s.

Have you read any of Barbara Cartland’s books? What do you think?

Reminiscing about the traditional Regency novel

Hi, readers! Susan here with another blast from the past — 1987 to be exact. I expect many of you inspirational Regency-lovers are like me…you loved the older, clean Regencies that were so readily available a few decades ago, published by Signet (my faves), Zebra and the like.

In fact, my efforts toward a fiction-writing career began with a desire to try my hand at writing one of these thrilling, yet clean, romances…with a dash or more of the Christian faith included as a character developing element…sometimes even as a plot twist or a conflict-causing, stake-raising factor.

So today, I am bringing you a review of an old favorite, Mary Jo Putney’s “The Diabolical Baron.”

Book Cover
Book Cover

Don’t let the title throw you, the book is a charming tale of true love, the twists and turns and the happily ever after. With two attractive suitors trying to lay claim to her heart and a father insisting she marry for a fortune, she has deep waters to navigate all the while trying to protect her beloved sister.

If you can find this title, I believe it might be one of your favorites too — though it is not a true inspirational romance. My hopes are that the Regency genre will grow in popularity again, with Christian writers bringing it to the fore.

 

Blast from the Past: Marion Chesney’s Regency novels

Hi all, Susan Karsten here!

…Back from an absence of about four months (that pesky tax job). Since I enjoy Camy’s posts on older regency books so much, I am bringing you info about a book, and its author, and telling you about her extensive and delicious back-list of regency reading fun (over 90 titles). If the author Marion Chesney is not familiar to you — get thee to a bookstore — or library in this case — since she isn’t (boo-hoo) writing regencies anymore.

No, she now only writes fabulously popular cozy mysteries now and you may know her as M.C. Beaton. However, her regencies are GREAT, and with some digging, are still available to the avid fan. She’s got some of her backlist out as e-books lately, too.

Chesney’s debut (writing under her own name) book, which I happen to own, is “The Poor Relation.” Heroine and former debutante Amaryllis Duvane’s fortunes have sunk low and she is reduced to the status of serving her wealthier relatives. Her past love, the Marquess of Merechester, shows up to court one of these wicked stepsister types, and the drama begins.

100_6459

I’ll happily admit to being a huge fan of Chesney, in all her genres. But the chance to read one of her first efforts makes me admire her career trajectory even more. As one familiarizes oneself with her work, it’s clear that as she gained publishing popularity and confidence, more and more of Chesney’s delicious humor comes out on the page. I can only hope to instigate half as many snickers for my own readers…someday…when I make my debut!

If you’ve ever enjoyed Chesney’s regencies, please add a comment.

Susan Karsten

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New Inspirational Regency and a Chance to Win

There’s none better than NICHOLAS BRENTWOOD at catching the felons who ravage London’s streets, and there’s nothing he loves more than seeing justice carried out—but this time he’s met his match.

Beautiful and beguiling EMILY PAYNE is more treacherous than a city full of miscreants and thugs, for she’s a thief of the highest order . . . she’s stolen his heart.

Intrigued? You should be!

That’s the description for the latest novel from our very own Michelle Griep.

Emily Payne doesn’t make a very flattering first impression on her temporary guardian, Nicholas Brentwood. Her second one isn’t much better.

He thinks she’s a spoiled excuse for a gentle lady and she thinks he’s a stuffy killjoy. What they both thought would a be a few weeks of escorting her to and from the stores quickly turns into a fight for their lives.

Before long their relationship is thrown into a territory neither is prepared to handle. Tragedy and danger have a way of doing that, after all.

So much more than a love story, Brentwood’s Ward will take you on a nail-biting adventure as justice and love try to prevail.

You have the opportunity to win a copy of Michelle’s latest tale by leaving a comment below. You can enter again on each post now through the end of next week. The winner will be chosen on February 28 and have their choice of print book or audiobook.

 

A Light Among Shadows by Tamela Hancock Murray

A Classic Regency Review by Laurie Alice Eakes

The first Christian Regency romance I read is A Light Among Shadows by Tamela  Hancock Murray. She is an agent now, but started out as an author and a good one at that.

LightAmongShadowsAt first read of this novel, I couldn’t figure out why the author chose the title A Light among Shadows. A few minutes’ reflection on the theme of the story was all I needed to realize that the title is thoroughly appropriate.

The obvious reference to light in this love story is the spiritual light of the heroine and hero’s faith in God. Even more so, however, Abigail, the classic Regency heroine with a head full of romantic dreams that conflict with her parents’ wishes for her, carries several torches that do not all relate to one another.

First, Abigail carries a romantic torch for Henry Hanover, a neighbor. He is her knight in shining armor who, in her dreams, will carry her away from a father besotted with his young wife, and that young wife, who, if not exactly a wicked stepmother, is certainly an annoying one. Despite seeming to agree to an elopement with Abigail, Henry doesn’t show up at the rendezvous, nearly dowsing Abigail’s life torch, when she waits in vain in the rain and becomes deathly ill.

Abigail, waiting cold and frightened in the darkness for a man the reader can guess isn’t going to show up, feels the shadows gathering around her. How can she continue to shine in her social and spiritual life if she is forced to marry the man her parents have arranged for her to wed, a dissolute gamester with a good name and fortune?

But Tedric, the erstwhile fiancée’s brother, rescues Abigail from the shadows, and her light emerges brighter than ever, so bright it spills over onto all with whom this heroine comes in contact. Maids, her self-seeking stepmother and, above all, Tedric find shadows banished from their lives under Abigail’s delightful blend of uppity gentry with charming innocence. Experiencing Abigail from her girlish entries in her diary to the final romantic revelations with the hero, gives a whole new meaning to “light” reading.

Throwback Thursday Regency Read: The Savage Lord Griffin by Joan Smith

A review by Laurie Alice Eakes

Joan Smith has always been one of my favorite traditional Regency authors. She has the wit and clever plot turns of Georgette Heyer, with a more modern sensibility of character introspection so often absent from Heyer’s stories. The Savage Lord Griffin is one of my personal favorites so much because of the character growth and touching scenes, without being maudlin or sappy, that come about through these characters becoming emotional adults.

LordGriffinLord James Griffin disappeared into the wilderness of Brazil five years earlier, leaving his fiancée behind. Now he is back with his white monkey and gold earring and expects his lady love to have waited for him.

Of course she did not. She is engaged to a duke who is the opposite of Griffin in about every way from strength of personality, to their political views. Myra finds herself in a position to choose between the two and loving the attention.

Meanwhile, her younger sister Alice has grown up and discovers that her childhood tendre for Griffin is full-blown love. Yet she still promises to help him win Myra back.

To say more would spoil the story that is wholly character-driven by characters you in turns want to strangle and embrace for their humanness. Joan Smith is an excellent storyteller. At times, you know exactly what sort of a scene is coming up, but you wait in anticipation rather than rolling your eyes and sigh, “I knew that was coming.” You want it to come to see how Smith will raise her characters to the next level of understanding and finding the true direction of their hearts.

Banquet of Lies ~ A Preposterous Premise, and yet a Delightful Read

Banquet of Lies CoverBanquet of Lies by Michelle Deiner is more Regency historical romance than traditional Regency, nor is it particularly old, having a copyright date of 2013, and it is not inspirational in the spiritual realm of reading. It is, however, a clean read, well-written, and romping good fun, if you like suspense with your Regency romance, which I do; thus, in my efforts to introduce you to Regency romances that are clean, entertaining, and well-written, if not inspirational, I present this story.

1812. In order to discover who murdered her diplomat father, Gigi Barrington heads to London disguised as a chef. She works in Lord Aldridge’s kitchen, hiding in plain sight. But as she closes in on her quarry, Aldridge’s romantic advances complicate matters.

This is a preposterous premise. I honestly don’t think even a young lady with this heroine’s background would be a good enough cook during the Regency to take on the role of head chef in a nobleman’s kitchen.

For someone like me who says one can get away with a lot as long as it is historically feasible, not that it actually happened, to say I enjoyed this book is a little shocking. I don’t think this is historically feasible, but then, we often suspend our disbelief in exchange for a good story.

Banquet of Lies is one of those stories—fast-paced; lovable characters; suspense and, of course, romance all dropped into the middle of Regency London.

Now here at the end of this little post I do have to confess that I picked up this book to read partly because I also indulged in the preposterosity of having a secondary character in A Necessary Deception (Regency romance from Baker/Revell 2012) who is a female chef from a good family there for the purpose of keeping an eye on someone.

My chef wasn’t planned. She simply popped onto the page and wouldn’t leave.  Because of the release dates, I think this is mere coincidence, rather a fascinating uptake from the ether.

Have you read Banquet of Lies? What did you think of it?

Titles from my Favorite Regency Writer, by Susan Karsten

Hi, Regency fans! I got into reading regency fiction when my children were young. I needed something enjoyable, light, and clean to have on hand whenever I had a few spare minutes to read.

One day, at my library, I stumbled across a book from the House for the Season series, by Marion Chesney — the rest is history — regency era history. She’s still my favorite regency fiction author, and I only wish she still wrote in the genre. Following is a list of her prolific output (Enjoy!):

 

  • Regency Gold (1980)
  • Lady Margery’s Intrigue (1980)
  • The Constant Companion (1980)
  • Quadrille (1981)
  • My Lords, Ladies and Marjorie (1981)
  • The Ghost and Lady Alice (1982)
  • Love and Lady Lovelace (1982)
  • Duke’s Diamonds (1982)
  • The Flirt (1985)
  • At The Sign of the Golden Pineapple (1987)
  • Miss Davenport’s Christmas (1993)
  • The Chocolate Debutante (1998)

Westerby[edit]

  1. The Westerby Inheritance (1982)
  2. The Westerby Sisters (1982)

The Six Sisters[edit]

  1. Minerva (1983)
  2. The Taming of Annabelle (1983)
  3. Deirdre and Desire (1984)
  4. Daphne (1984)
  5. Diana the Huntress (1985)
  6. Frederica in Fashion (1985)

A House for the Season Series[edit]

  1. The Miser of Mayfair (1986)
  2. Plain Jane (1986)
  3. The Wicked Godmother (1987)
  4. Rake’s Progress (1987)
  5. The Adventuress (1987)
  6. Rainbird’s Revenge (1988)

The School for Manners[edit]

  1. Refining Felicity (1988)
  2. Perfecting Fiona (1989)
  3. Enlightening Delilah (1989)
  4. Finessing Clarissa (1989)
  5. Animating Maria (1990)
  6. Marrying Harriet (1990)

Waverley Women[edit]

  1. The First Rebellion (1989)
  2. Silken Bonds (1989)
  3. The Love Match (1989)

The Travelling Matchmaker[edit]

  1. Emily Goes to Exeter (1990)
  2. Belinda Goes to Bath (1991)
  3. Penelope Goes to Portsmouth (1991)
  4. Beatrice Goes to Brighton (1991)
  5. Deborah Goes to Dover (1992)
  6. Yvonne Goes to York (1992)

Poor relation[edit]

  1. Lady Fortescue Steps Out (1993)
  2. Miss Tonks Turns to Crime (1993) aka Miss Tonks Takes a Risk
  3. Mrs. Budley Falls From Grace (1993)
  4. Sir Philip’s Folly (1993)
  5. Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue (1994)
  6. Back in Society (1994)

The Daughters of Mannerling[edit]

  1. The Banishment (1995)
  2. The Intrigue (1995)
  3. The Deception (1996)
  4. The Folly (1996)
  5. The Romance (1997)
  6. The Homecoming (1997)

PS: This is not Christian fiction, but is pretty clean.

Would love to hear from other Chesney fans in the comments. Fondly, Susan