Mistletoe and Second Chances

Title: A Matchmaker’s Christmas by Donna Lea Simpson
Publisher: Beyond the Page, Amazon digital services (December 2014)
230 pp
Genre: regency romance, classic romance
3 Stars ***
Author:
Donna Lea Simpson is a Canadian bestselling author. She writes romance and mystery novels, some with a paranormal twist (the Awaiting series looks intriguing). This romance was a delightful read, evocative of the rural English countryside in Regency times. I found a few modern attitudes, actions and language but enjoyed the gentle, poignant and satisfying romances.
Story line:
Lady Bournaud, an elderly widow, hosts a Holiday party, resolved to do some good before she passes happily on, waiting to be reunited with her beloved late husband. The unsuspecting couples gather, not necessarily in correct social order, but through much character development, introspection and doubt, find love. Second chances for all ages, in changing social times.
Read on:
To Georgette Heyer, Anne Perry
Mark it for next holiday, with the true spirit of Christmas or enjoy during this winter season.
Quotes:
It’s going to be a long cold winter. Been a miserable summer and it is not likely to get any better now.
But each season had its own sorrows and rewards and she learned a long time ago to take each day as it came….looking ahead was too bleak and looking back was unthinkable.
I hate this present age of music I don’t understand, prissy young folk allowed to marry wherever they wish, and a mad old king,
You cannot mean that you intend to match these poor unsuspecting young people? A reverend and a hoyden?
I have outlived disease. I begin to fear I will live forever…..Lady Bournaud did not like closed books.
As the life I live is my own, and the only one I have been given, I think it behooves me to be careful with it ma’am.
I have taken the elegant affectation of staying in bed until luncheon.

Read as an ARC from Netgalley

Advertisements

Fall into a Good Book!

A friend of a friend is a friend.
A friend of a friend who likes books is a good friend.
A friend of a friend who shares books is a great friend.
And a friend of a friend who is also a regency writer, is a friend-in-waiting!?
image
Recently, I discovered a new award winning author Jess Russell – and I am delighted to comment on her debut Regency romance novel The Dressmaker’s Duke. Jess Russell has created a fascinating historical romance novel full of London high society, fashion, courtesans, village life, with complex characters. There are also interesting embedded stories which provide depth that include passion for painting, fashion and dressmaking (the author is also an accomplished seamstress!), the use of all our senses so accurately described which contribute to the story. This is not your standard debut novel. It is a well written and crafted combination of historical detail and rollicking romance. It showcases everyday life, primarily of the English aristocracy but has also some steamy intimate details characteristic of the new regency historical novel (now I understand there are even more regency categories: traditional, regency historical, sensual, paranormal (including Victorian steam punk) and Christian regency romance). This is well researched; you will find many familiar people and locations (Jackson’s, Mr Crup’s, Mrs Radcliffe’s novels, Mrs Siddons).

Characters

Mr Rhys Alistair James Merrick, 6th Duke of Royden aka The Monk

Mrs Olivia Weston (née Olivia Jayne Ballard, father Earl of Stokesly, Mr Angus Allen Hartner)

Her companion Egg (Mrs Eglantine Wiggens who has a flirtation with Merrick’s Uncle Betram)

Daria Battersby, courtesan

Lord Oscar Biden, scoundrel

Plot

The story takes place over the year of 1810. It is rather intricate, somewhat convoluted, with the usual melodrama and secrets. They each have past traumas that are slowly revealed, adding both dimension and substance to their relationship, while preventing straightforward courtship. I haven’t recovered fully from the visual of the main character being described as an onion with many layers. But perhaps that was also due to all of the senses so well described in this novel: the gutter smells and intoxicating fragrances, stunning scenery, gorgeous dresses and feel of the materials, champagne bubbles and sensual trysts, with incessant rain, cobblestone street traffic and droning matron voices. The mistress was slightly caricatured. Imagine being a hag at 35? There are no spoilers here, remember this IS a regency romance, with which I automatically have predictable expectations. But it has fun dialogue, interesting back stories, familiar territory with accurate descriptions, and a most satisfactory ending.

It is a pleasant distraction for an autumn afternoon. I have no recollection of the flight from Florida to Vermont as I was engrossed in this tale, marking hysterical comments and notes to share. 4 stars – open the champagne and celebrate this new author.

Received as an e- ARC from the author.

Publisher Wild Rose Press Author Jess Russell lives in New York (and not only loves power tools, but knows how to use them. I have found a kindred spirit who appreciated the gift of a chainsaw!). Her passions include dressmaking and batik.

The Dressmaker’s Duke came in first in the Fool for Love contest, Golden Apple Awards’ Secret Craving contest, the Indiana Golden Opportunity contest, and finaled in the Great Beginnings, Emerald City opener, and Lone Star contests.

Read on: If you like Mary Jo Putney, Mary Balogh, Jo Beverly, Marion Chesney, Georgette Heyer, Lisa Kleypas, Stephanie Laurens, Julia Quinn, Amanda Quick, Christina Dodd or Madeline Hunter.

Favourite Quotes:

“This particular shop was not for the faint of heart. Mr Crup specialised in the macabre.”

“Rhys raised an eyebrow, one of his surest weapons, and gave the man his most ducal look.”

“But the four full suits of armor, Sir Mutton, Sir Haggis, Sir Dunce-a-lot and last but not least, Sir Portly- she had named them all in the last hour- gave up no secrets.”

“Rhys waited and then raised an eyebrow ever so slightly. Wilcove (his secretary) used to reading volumes in the mere quiver of Rhys’s nostril, rushed on.”

“Please don’t resurrect that atrocity (a costume dress). Good lord, we need a patron not an arrest.”

“The ton had called her ruined. Ruined. What an odd word to associate with a human being, as if she were broken and no longer useful, something to be thrown away.”