Disclosure: Acquired the Kindle edition of this book when it was offered free by Open Road Media, December 2016. (Originally published by Signet, 1984) I do not know the author nor have I ever had any communication with her about this book or any other matter. I am an author of both historical and contemporary romance novels.
Though I'm not an ardent devotee of the Regency romance subgenre, I've been known to enjoy a good one now and then. This, unfortunately, was not a good one.
Eleanor Lindale had her first Season at 17 and didn't snag a husband. Before she could enjoy a second chance, a series of deaths in the family put her in deep mourning and prevented her from entering society again. Now, at 26, she considers herself on the shelf, and so does everyone else. That includes her older sister Clarissa, who charges Nell with chaperoning her daughter Aurora through her first Season.
Young Lady Aurora, known as Rory, is the most revolting, and unbelievable, character I've run across in a long time. She's beyond spoiled. She's beyond reckless. She's beyond thoughtless. She's beyond irresponsible. She's beyond selfish. She's beyond beyond. She's a mean, spiteful, manipulative little bitch.
Had she been the heroine of the tale, I'd never have gone past page four.
Nell, on the other hand, is your usual goody two-shoes: Patient, understanding, self-sacrificing, self-deprecating. Devoted to her vaporish widowed mother, Lady Agnes, and her obstreperous younger brother Kit, Nell is too good to be true.
The situation is complicated by the fact that Rory is already engaged, but it's sort of a secret. Her parents have arranged for her to marry a much older man, the Earl of Huntley, whose estate adjoins theirs and who will make Rory a very wealthy countess.
But Rory wants the fun of a Season, and Huntley is willing to let her. And though she's quite honest about her lack of affection for him, she is eager to be a very wealthy countess.
Of course, there's the further complication that Nell and Huntley sort of had a thing for each other eight years ago, when he was just a poor younger son with no prospects.
Well, you can probably see where this is going, and that's exactly where it went.
None of them had any brains to see it all coming. Well, except for Major Talcott, and then he turned out to be as addlepated as the rest of them in the end.
The conventions of the Regency are all on display here: heavy emphasis on fashion and social events -- this one takes place in Brighton, with Prinny and Mrs. Fitzherbert on the scene -- along with plenty of period slang, I daresay. If that's your thing, I'm sure you'll love it.
But if you're looking for a story that doesn't give away the ending before you've finished the first chapter, this isn't it. (The ending was so absurd I actually laughed aloud. It was, well, beyond contrived.)