Here's a new book by the excellent romance author, Celeste Jones. I'm not terribly familiar with Regency era romances, but I know they are extremely popular. I was never a Jane Austen aficionado, and I wouldn't know a duke from an earl (I know the Duke of Earl), so I'll leave that genre to my fair colleagues like Mrs. Jones who really know the ins and outs of British society and manners at the dawn of the 19th century.
There are three things I really like about this book. The first is the heroine, Sarah McClean. She's a strong willed American spitfire trying to cope with being hustled off to England by her father who wants nothing more than a royal title in the family. And she's supposed to let herself be married off to some fop of an English lord just so dad can brag to his cronies at the yacht club that his daughter is Lady____. She's not having any of it. The story opens in 1814 and, according to an outburst from our heroine at a party that has become much too boring, America has just
beaten the Brits for the second time.(Not even 50 years old and we're 2-0. Take that with your tea and crumpets!) Lord Amherst takes offense and is of a good mind to teach the little Yankee doxy a lesson. He does have a point. [Minor quibble: if we are in
England and it's 1814, it might have been a bit early to declare
victory. News of the Battle of New Orleans would not have made its way
across the pond since it happened in January of 1815.] But let's be fair, the book is a hot romance with lots of spankings, so what if our feisty heroine jumped the gun?
The second thing is the POV. It's a first person POV, a bit unusual in romances, but it works here. We really get to know Sarah McClean. And that's good because the story is all hers. She has quite a sense of humor and that's another plus. We experience everything that she does, and that includes the English lord who claims our little "Yankee girl" (his words, not mine), the formidible and hunky Lord Amherst. He lays siege to her heart (and other portions of her anatomy) and her resistance melts.The image I get is Ray Milland in "Reap the Wild Wind." Come to think of it, the party scene from that movie is a perfect fit for Mrs. Jones' opening scene.
That brings me to the third thing--the heat. It seems Lord Amherst, while a gentleman of impeccable manners, has little tolerance for the shenanigans of a mouthy, sometimes rude American girl and is prone to demonstrating his displeasure in a quite physical manner, with rugged palm and the occasional switch. He's quite taken with Miss McClean precisely because she's spirited and fiery and speaks her mind. At the same time, and from time to time, he has to teach Miss McClean some manners. And he does--frequently and in the time honored manner of all Victorian husbands who believed in a firm hand applied to the right place. It turns out this not a completely bad thing because of the end game--in the bedroom with clothes discarded and ravaging in progress. Lots of ravaging.
There's a plot that has to do with Sarah trying to fit in and telling a fib that to me was BFD, but I'm not one to judge, and from all accounts it was a scandalous whopper in those circles. (I never understood what they actually DID all day. On Downton Abbey all they do is dress up and eat, but this is set 100 years earlier and maybe there was more stuff to do.) Lord Amherst is not amused. But does it affect our lovers? Can Lord Amherst tolerate a wife who causes such a row? Does he still love her or has she royally screwed the pooch?
You'll have to read the book to find out. Me? I didn't care. It's not about the destination. In this compelling and well written romance, it's ALL about the journey.