4 Stars Out Of 5
Character development is superb
May 2, 2014
Regency romances encompass a world all their own. The setting is unique as is the manner of speech, way of thinking, clothing styles and belief system. I started reading books of this genre back when I was in high school. I also enjoyed some Victorian era literature. It was easy to recognize that this author is immersed in the culture. The effortless use of the vocabulary, idioms, government conflicts, and popular public figures used in this book demonstrate this. It made slipping into the story much easier. There were even some terms in this book I was not familiar with. I found it to be a refreshing change from those who write of the era but only throw in terms and well known historical figures from time to time to add authenticity though it feels forced. For me, the author's attention to detail made the story come alive.
Jessamine Barry grew up in the country, the only daughter of the small town minister and his wife. Her quiet life was tranquil and ideal until her best friend's brother broke her heart. In her efforts to recover, Jessamine and her friend Megan decided on a change of pace--a season in London with Jessamine's godmother, Lady Bess, who kindly sponsored both young ladies. Once they had arrived, Jessamine tried to affect a change of appearance and behavior, to throw herself into having as much fun as possible. She would reject the familiar. In her efforts to experience the whirlwind social life, she made some errors in judgment.
One of the young men Jessamine and Megan became acquainted with was Lancelot Marfleet. He had recently returned from two years as missionary in India, recovering from serious illness. Not having been out in polite society recently, his first blunder while observing the doleful expression on Jessamine's face was the mocking comment, "Your frown could crack marble." He was only commiserating with her sentiments about the parade of people she and Megan were watching at an event, but she took offense. Since that opening gambit, they seemed destined to clash wherever they met, especially when she discovered how similar he was to her father.
Lancelot was facing issues of his own. He had wanted to return to India, but his poor health made it currently impossible. He was living in his parent's home, and they were applying pressure for him to marry and produce an heir, since his older brother had not. He was concerned about his brother's reckless lifestyle. But he reluctantly attended a few events where he met Miss Barry and Miss Phillips. In spite of Jessamine's antagonism toward him, he felt attracted to her.
At first, the introductory set-up for the two main characters seem to drag a little bit. However, I realized it was an appropriate way to convey the tediousness of the social life of the ton and their endless rounds of social events showcasing the young women presenting themselves for "the marriage mart." In writing this, the author has demonstrated a contrast between the idealism that many of the young ladies held, while at the same time exposing some of the unsavory underbelly of those who preyed upon the naive.
The author also effectively draws the reader into the inner conflict of Jessamine's heart as she struggled for affirmation. I felt that her efforts to fight against the invisible restraints from society and parental expectations was realistic and something many readers would feel kindred to. Many can remember times when we tested the boundaries to determine where we stand in the world. She was also dealing with the loss of her first love. When she finally met Rees's new bride and saw for herself how much they loved each other, the finality of the situation caused her pain but also released her to move on with life. But as is often the case, it took a near tragedy to wake her up to the real world and the opportunities she had been passing by.
When all is said and done, the love story is stormy yet sweet, Jessamine and Megan's friendship is heartwarming, the overall pace is comfortable, and the resolution is satisfying. I enjoyed the book and can recommend it to anyone who enjoys Christian Regency romance books.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from The Book Club Network on behalf of Revel, a division of Baker Publishing Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."