5 Stars Out Of 5
Good Regency Fiction
July 29, 2014
"The Barons Honorable Daughter" is what I would call a coming of age novel. Divided into three parts it portrays the late teen years of Miss Valeria Segraves life with the blessings and burdens that come with belonging to the nobility of England.
In the first part of "The Barons Honorable Daughter" we are getting to know Valeria, her family, friends, servants, home life and estate. The reader is being immersed in that culture. I loved all the little details describing the clothes, food, servants, housemaids, footmen, rooms in the houses and much more. The novel became alive! I could see the staff working in the house and feel the crush and bustle of London vividly. My only quibble is with the authors choice of explaining every rule of polite society and the reasons for them. I excused it just because I was very Happy Ms. Morris did her research. As a frequent reader of novels set in England involving the landed gentry, as well as, noble and titled persons, I already knew most of these explanations. I do understand that there are some who do not know this information and that this was included for those readers. It probably would have been better placed as end notes in a glossary with numbers for the reader to follow.
Lynn Morris scenes set on a beautiful, English, country estate, were written in the spirit of Jane Austens Emma and Elizabeth Gaskells Wives and Daughters (films and novels), and others of this type. The latter half of "The Barons Honorable Daughter" finds us in London for the Season. I definitely picked up a strong Georgette Heyer influence here in the speech, descriptions, and activities of the characters. By the end, though, we were back to Austen and Gaskell patterns.
Valeria is a young woman who is learning to be a real lady. She is often outspoken, careless, stubborn, quick-tempered, and at times rude to the despair of her friends and gracious, elegant mother. Valeria is a heroine in the making! Miss Segrave is beautiful, tall and elegant physically, but has plenty of maturing to do emotionally and spiritually. I almost didnt like her because that kind of personality doesnt appeal to me. Her character was redeemed though, through some circumstances and lessons that make her humble and repentant toward God and her fellow-man. She also has some good, old-fashioned growing up to do!
Our hero, Alastair, Lord Hylton, is tall, handsome, and muscular with a self-contained, sharp and serious nature. He is rather mysterious and a true gentleman. I liked him, but never got to know him well. Alastair doesnt even make an appearance until chapter eight and gets sporadic page time throughout the novel. I wish we could have seen him more since I did enjoy the page time he did get.
Most of the novel is from Valerias viewpoint with an occasional look inside Alastairs head. Any other scenes from supporting characters viewpoints are kept extremely brief and are rare. I liked that very much. There wasnt a lot of head-hopping.
There isnt a lot of romance in this novel. I wish there would have been more, but the whole storyline reads more like a documentary of how life was like back then. Its more historical fiction than romance. When I think of books by Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer I remember that they dont contain much romance either. The hero and heroine in this book spend most of their conversations arguing for no good reasons that I can see. The author calls it sparring and a match of wits, but it came across as just yelling to me. Most of the time I sided with the hero and wanted Valeria to calm down and accept her situation. She did have a few humerus lines.
Surrounding the hero and heroine is a pretty decent supporting cast of supporting characters. We have plenty of scenes including both families of Valeria and Alastair, their intimate friends, and the servants. It was refreshing to see more people than just the hero and heroine, yet not have all of their viewpoints. I was also very happy to see no villains, chases, blackmail, kidnapping or fights. Bravo!
"The Barons Honorable Daughter" has characters who are wealthy and privileged, but comfortable and content (for the most part) in their way of life. They enjoy it and are not ashamed of their lineage. They try to live honorably and worthy of their stations. One might classify this as a drawing-room novel with light romance, manners, and heavy on the social scene. This novel was a page-turner for me even though is had some scenes set a leisurely pace and others sped by quick. I enjoyed this journey into the polite society of Regency England and look forward to Lynn Morris next book.