Monday, November 29, 2010

New Website for Deanna Raybourn Fans!

There's great news for fans of Deanna Raybourn's Lady Julia and Nicholas Brisbane series! Deanna Raybourn has announced today that Lady Julia's Rookery is a new website related to all things in the Silent in the Grave series! Run by two devoted fans (Laura and Jen), the website features timelines, book info, character bios, a book discussion forum, and lots of other interesting tidbits related to Deanna and her novels. While some parts are still under construction, Lady Julia's Rookery looks promising! A fun place to visit while we're waiting for the next Lady Julia adventure.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Virtual Tour for Susanna Kearsley's The Winter Sea

December kicks off Susanna Kearlsey's virtual tour of the book blogging world for her recent U.S. release of The Winter Sea, a beautifully written tale of love, sacrifice, and intrigue. It's one of my most memorable reads in 2010, and I highly recommend it. (You can read my review here.) Click here for a list of dates and blogs where Susanna Kearsley will be visiting the blogosphere.

In addition, Historical Tapestry is having a week-long celebration for Susanna Kearsley's novels with interviews, guest posts, and giveaways! (yay!) Click here for details.

There's more good news......The Winter Sea has been nominated by RT Book Reviews for the Reviewer's Choice Award in the historical fiction category!

Fans of Kearsley can also look forward to a new book to be published in the near future...The Rose Garden. Click here to read a synopsis of the book and the first two chapters.

I'm very excited to follow her blog tour as she is an author that have I have recently discovered and found her to be a most impressive author. I hope to see you on the blog tour!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

For the King's Favor by Elizabeth Chadwick

"When Roger Bigod arrives at King Henry II's court to settle a bitter inheritance dispute, he becomes enchanted with Ida de Tosney, young mistress to the powerful king. A victim of Henry's seduction and the mother of his son, Ida sees in Roger a chance to begin a new life. But Ida pays an agonizing price when she leaves the king, and as Roger's importance grows and he gains an earldom, their marriage comes under increasing strain. Based on the true story of a royal mistress and the young lord she chose to marry, For the King's Favor is Elizabeth Chadwick at her best."
(from the publisher)

my thoughts:

I've heard so much about Elizabeth Chadwick's ability to make the medieval world come alive that I was very much looking forward to reading one of her novels. She did not disappoint -- For the King's Favor was a memorable tale of love, honor, duty, and sacrifice. Chadwick's writing made this period in history come alive, and the characters were richly drawn.

As a favored mistress of King Henry II, Ida de Tosney is duty-bound to serve her king and, as a result, gives birth to a son. But she longs for her own family with a husband of her choice, and she sees the honorable and noble knight, Roger Bigod, as the key to her future and independence from the king. In order to marry Bigod, however, Ida must make the ultimate sacrifice and leave her son, William, to be raised as a royal in the care of the court of King Henry.

Roger Bigod must also remain in the king's favor as he is attempting to recover his lands which were lost by his father's rebellious actions against the king. His stepmother, Gundreda, and half-brothers fight Roger every step, as they contend that they are the legitimate heirs of the vast inheritance and earldom.

The love story of Ida and Roger is a poignant one; together they struggle with their own deep wounds from the past, deal with the strains of long separations, and continue to build a future together at Framlingham Castle. A superb tale, and I'm looking forward to reading Chadwick's The Greatest Knight and The Scarlet Lion.

5/5 stars

Title: For the King's Favor
Author: Elizabeth Chadwick
525 pages
genre: historical fiction

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

"History has all but forgotten.....
In the spring of 1708, an invading Jacobite fleet of French and Scottish soldiers nearly succeeded in landing the exiled James Stewart in Scotland to reclaim his crown.

Now Carrie McClelland hopes to turn that story into her next bestselling novel. Settling herself in the shadow of Slains Castle, she creates a heroine named for one of her own ancestors and starts to write.

But when she discovers her novel is more fact than fiction, Carrie wonders if she might be dealing with ancestral memory, making her the only living person who knows the truth--the ultimate betrayal--that happened all those years ago, and that knowledge comes very close to destroying her...."

(from the publisher)

my thoughts:

It's official: I have a new favorite book, and it is The Winter Sea!

Kearsley has the ability to make me forget that I am reading....I just fall into her stories and become part of another world. She makes you feel the damp, cold stones of the castle, shiver in the icy cold wind and water of the sea, and experience real heart-pounding fear as danger draws near. She brings you to tears as your heart truly aches for her characters and you understand the depths of their feelings.... it's just incredible! If you have room for just one more book on your TBR list, make it The Winter Sea!

The structure of this book makes the story read as a time slip story, but it's actually a "story within a story" -- in the present, author Carrie McClelland has arrived in Scotland to begin writing her new novel based on an historical event: an attempt by the Jacobites in the early 1700's to bring the exiled King James back to Scotland. Once she arrives in Cruden Bay, she feels compelled to rent a cottage near the sea where she can settle in to write. The cottage is near the ruins of Slains Castle, and she experiences a strange deja vu while exploring the castle. Carrie is inspired to begin writing immediately, and discovers as she writes (the reader actually gets to read the chapters Carrie is writing) that she has a "genetic memory" from the past. Strangely, as her novel begins to unfold, Carrie discovers evidence in her research that what she thought was her fictional account is actually recorded history. In parallel stories, as Carrie guides her novel's heroine in her love story, Carrie also finds herself attracted to a handsome history professor.

Carrie names her heroine after an ancestor; she creates Sophia , a beautiful young orphaned girl who comes to live at Slains Castle in the 1700's with her relative, the Countess of Erroll. There is much secret activity at the castle as the inhabitants prepare for the return of their exiled King from France. Sophia is intelligent and discreet, and meets many of the players in the secret plot, one of them the handsome John Morey, a Jacobite with a price on his head. As the plot begins to be put into motion, danger looms for all involved....and if it fails, it threatens to change the lives of the inhabitants of Slains Castle forever.

Secrets, sacrifice, promises, betrayal, heartache, an enduring love....The Winter Sea will hold you spellbound until the very last page.

And there's great news on Susanna Kearsley's website....plans are underway to write a companion book for The Winter Sea continuing the story with Anna! Wonderful news! Click here for Kearlsey's news.

5/5 stars - Loved, loved, loved it! Highly recommended!!!

Title: The Winter Sea
Author: Susanna Kearsley
536 pages
genre: historical fiction

Forever Amber: From Novel to Film by Gary A. Smith

"Kathleen Winsor's story of Restoration England follows the exploits of a beautiful girl named Amber St. Clare who bed-hops her way from country wench to mistress of the King of England. Forever Amber became a cause celebre' for the "watchdogs of morality" who attempted to ban the book, which went on to sell millions of copies despite their efforts. When a film version of the novel was announced these same "watchdogs" turned their attention toward Hollywood. Although controversy might sell books and cinema tickets, it can also damage reputations and prevent serious works of art from ever being taken seriously.

Forever Amber: From Novel to Film hopes to shed a new light on the much maligned movie version of the best-selling novel of the forties and show how misguided censorship can ultimately damage artistic expression."

(from the publisher)

my thoughts:

When I was in high school, one of my favorite books was Gone With the Wind; I read it countless times and fell in love with the dashing Rhett Butler. However, my best friend loved reading about all things English (Barbara Cartland, Georgette Heyer) and Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor was her favorite. She convinced me to read it, and I thought it was amazing! To this day, whenever we get together all these years later, we still talk about how much we love Forever Amber. When I came across this book that discusses both the novel and the film, I had to have it!

Forever Amber: From Novel to Screen gives us the inside scoop of the production, casting, and publicity nightmares that dogged the making of one of the most controversial and scandalous movies of the 1940's. This book is an absolute must for anyone who is a fan of either the novel or the movie (I have a copy of the movie on VHS tape!) as there are wonderful photographs of costume tests, actor screen tests, and many scenes (as well as deleted scenes) from the movie. Unfortunately, the original script of the movie ultimately went through so many changes due to strong censorship, that the end result ended up being more of a morality tale than the lush, lusty tale the novel tells of Amber. Strict moral codes of the studios, along with pressure from organized religious groups and self-appointed moral watchdogs, created challenges every step of the way objecting to the fact that "sinful behavior" goes unpunished or unrepented in the movie. According to this source, when the movie played in theatres, it was opened with a voice reading the following words during the opening credits:

"This is the TRAGIC story of Amber St. Clare, slave to ambition,
stranger to virtue, fated to find the wealth and power she
ruthlessly gained wither to ashes in the fire lit by passion
and fed by defiance of the eternal command -- the wages of sin is death."
p. 125

Sounds absolutely Puritan, doesn't it? But times were very different back then when even an on-screen kiss was considered controversial by some viewers.

Peggy Cummins, a beautiful young British actress, was orignally cast as Amber. She filmed daily scenes for over a month, but finally was released after she made an unconvincing "mature" Amber in later scenes. (According to this source, Vivien Leigh was approached to play the part but turned it down. Other actresses considered for the part were Lana Turner and Gene Tierney.)

Linda Darnell, a much more sophisticated actress, replaced Peggy Cummins as the new Amber.

Cornel Wilde was always the strong studio favorite for the part of Bruce Carlton. Other actors considered, but not chosen, were Errol Flynn, Laurence Olivier, Gregory Peck, and Douglas Fairbanks, among others.)

Amber with another of her conquests -- as mistress to Charles II.
Censors objected to the "excessive illicit sex and adultery" in the movie (although nothing is explicit) as they are made to "appear attractive." p. 103

How different the movie would be if the studio had been unrestricted in their creativity and scene selection. And what a different movie it would be if it were made by today's standards!

A fun read -- lots of trivia and interesting tidbits. (Did you know? According to this source, the original title of Kathleen Winsor's manuscript was Wings of the Morning. Due to its controversial content, there were censoring and publishing issues which caused the book's production staff headaches. One harried staff member exlaimed, "I get a little tired of Amber--it's forever Amber, forever Amber!" The phrase stuck.)

Title: Forever Amber: From Novel to Film
Author: Gary A. Smith
BearManor Media
genre: nonfiction; film industry

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Curse of the Pharaohs by Elizabeth Peters

"Victorian gentlewoman Amelia Peabody Emerson does not relish the joys of home and hearth. For while she and her husband, the renowned archeologist Radcliffe Emerson, dutifully go about raising their young son, Ramses, Amelia dreams only of the dust and detritus of ancient civilizations. Providentially, a damsel in distress--coupled with a promising archeological site--demands their immediate presence in Egypt. The damsel is Lady Baskerville, and the site is a tomb in Luxor recently discovered by Sir Henry Baskerville, who promptly died under bizarre circumstances. Amelia and Radcliffe arrive to find the camp in disarray, terrified workers, an eccentric group of guests...and a persistent rumor of a ghost on the grounds. Now the indomitable Amelia must battle evil forces determined to stand between her and her beloved antiquities--and make her foray into the truth a most deadly affair."
(from the publisher)

my thoughts:

Ahhhh, Amelia Peabody! One of the most delightful Victorian characters I have had the pleasure to meet in the pages of a book. She is not the typical nineteenth-century portrait of a woman, as she so aptly informs the reader at the beginning of The Curse of the Pharaohs:

"I had invited Lady Harold Carrington and certain of her friends to tea...
Do not, gentle reader, be misled by this introductory statement. It is
accurate (as my statements always are); but if you expect the tale that
follows to be one of pastoral domesticity, enlivened only by gossip about
the country gentry, you will be sadly mistaken. Bucolic peace is not
my ambience, and the giving of tea parties is by no means my favorite
amusement. In fact, I would prefer to be pursued across the desert
by a band of savage Dervishes brandishing spears and howling for my
blood. I would rather be chased up a tree by a mad dog, or face a
mummy risen from the grave. I would rather be threatened by knives,
pistols, poisonous snakes, and the curse of a long-dead king."

I think you get the picture.

As the tale begins, Peabody (as her irascible but charming husband calls his wife) and Emerson have now been married five years and have settled into a quiet and respectable routine. Emerson is a lecturer at a London University and Amelia stays dutifully at home. Not by choice, mind you.....both are still secretly longing for the thrill of advenure and excitement that an archaeological dig promises; it's just that now there is Ramses, their adorable, precocious, part genius/part little tyrant son. It is obvious that conditions on a dig are dangerous, unhealthy, and are no place for a child, but when Emerson is summoned to Egypt by Lady Baskerville, widow of the archaeologist, Sir Henry Baskerville, Amelia and her husband begin to consider the possibility of returning to their shared passion. Reluctantly leaving their prodigy in the loving care of Aunt Evelyn (the damsel-in-distress from book l), they set off for the site of a tomb in Luxor which Sir Baskerville was in the process of uncovering before he mysteriously died.

Personally, I believe the "mystery" in the Amelia Peabody books plays a backseat to the entertaining repartee between Amelia and Emerson. (Although I hear from Amelia Peabody aficionados that her plots become increasingly more complex and compelling.) It's been fun to watch the evolution of their relationship, and now, with the addition of their first child, there is the added dimension of their unorthodox approaches to parenting. Lots of chuckles (you'll love their little boy...he's a cross between Bam Bam and Einstein); quick, light just can't go wrong with this delightful series.


Title: The Curse of the Pharaohs
Author: Elizabeth Peters
Grand Central Publishing
1981, 2002
genre: Victorian mystery

Thursday, November 11, 2010

New Releases in 2011 - Which ones are you waiting for?

Is it too early to get excited about some upcoming releases for 2011? Considering that I haven't finished all that I had planned to complete on my TBR shelf for 2010, it probably is jumping the gun a bit. Out of the hundreds of historical fiction and historical romance books coming out next year, I have carefully considered just a few titles that are a must to add to my library for the new year, and I'm interested to see what everyone else is anticipating for 2011. (These titles are making their U.S. debut.)

Elizabeth Chadwick - To Defy a King (available March 2011)

The privileged daughter of one of the most powerful men in England, Mahelt Marshal’s life changes dramatically when her father is suspected by King John. Her brothers become hostages and Mahelt is married to Hugh Bigod, heir to the earldom of Norfolk. Adapting to her new life is hard, but Mahelt comes to love Hugh deeply; however, defying her father in law brings disgrace and heartbreak. When King John sets out to subdue the Bigods, Mahelt faces her worst fears alone, knowing neither she, nor her marriage are likely to survive the outcome. A story of huge emotional power set against the road to Magna Carta and the fight to bring a tyrant king to heel.Click here for information about the novels of Elizabeth Chadwick.


Karleen Koen - Before Versailles. (available June 2011)
I adored Through a Glass Darkly, so I'm looking forward to her newest release set in 1661 in the court of young Louis XIV. Click here for Karleen Koen's novels.


Lauren Willig - The Orchid Affair (available January 2011) Another Pink Adventure! Can we ever get enough intrigue, swordplay, and romance? I don't think so!

Laura Grey, a veteran governess, joins the Selwick Spy School expecting to find elaborate disguises and thrilling exploits in service to the spy known as the Pink Carnation. She hardly expects her first assignment to be serving as governess for the children of Andre Jaouen, right-hand man to Bonaparte’s minister of police. Jaouen and his arch rival, Gaston Delaroche, are investigating a suspected Royalist plot to unseat Bonaparte, and Laura’s mission is to report any suspicious findings. At first the job is as lively as Latin textbooks and knitting, but Laura begins to notice strange behavior from Jaouen—secret meetings and odd comings and goings. As Laura edges closer to her employer, she makes a shocking discovery and is surprised to learn that she has far more in common with Jaouen than she originally thought. Click here for info about Lauren Willig's books.

Jennifer Donnelly - The Wild Rose (available August 2011 - no cover yet)
The wonderful saga began in The Tea Rose and I have The Winter Rose planned for a December read for my blog. The trilogy will be complete with the summer 2011 release of The Wild Rose which is the final book of Finnegan saga, carrying the story forward until WWI and the 1920's. Click here for Jennifer Donnelly's books.


Paullina Simons - The Summer Garden (available July 2011)I admit it -- I have never read one of the most celebrated epic love stories around....The Bronze Horseman! I know, I know.....there is absolutely no excuse for not making this fabulous series a priority. I plan to correct that. Click here for Paullina Simons info.


So, what books are your can't-wait-for releases in 2011? Please share!

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Betrayal of the Blood Lily by Lauren Willig

"Everyone warned Miss Penelope Deveraux that her unruly behavior would land her in disgrace someday. She never imagined she'd be whisked off to India to give the scandal of her hasty marriage time to die down. As Lady Frederick Staines, Penelope plunges into he treacherous waters of the Nizam of Hyderabad, where no one is quite what they seem--even her own husband. In a strange country, where elaborate court dress masks even more elaborate intrigues and a dangerous spy called the Marigold leaves venomous cobras as his calling card, there is only one person Penelope can trust.

Captain Alex Reid has better things to do than play nursemaid to a pair of aristrocrats. Or so he thinks--until Lady Frederick Staines outshoots, outrides, and outswims every man in the camp. She also has an uncanny ability to draw out the deadly plans of the Marigold and put herself in harm's way. With danger looming from warlords, treacherous court officials, and French spies, Alex realizes that an alliance with Lady Staines might just be the only thing standing in the way of a plot designed to rock the very foundations of the British empire."

(from the publisher)

my thoughts:

Sixth in the fabulously entertaining series by Lauren Willig, The Betrayal of the Blood Lily leaves the elegant English ballrooms for the mysterious and exotic setting of colonial India. If you've read Willig's website, you'll know that she is a fan of the works of M. M. Kaye, (The Far Pavilions, Trade Wind, and Shadow of the Moon), and The Betrayal of the Blood Lily is her tribute to that wonderful creator of epic stories of love, war, and adventure set in India. There is even a small part in the novel for the famous author, as Mrs. Selwick-Alderly explains to Eloise that she and M. M. Kaye were friends in their younger years.

Penelope Deveraux, or Lady Frederick Staines, is quite a departure from the proper, social-conscious ladies in her group of friends. She is impetuous and strong-willed, often times landing herself in predicaments because of her brash and hasty remarks and actions. There is little love lost between Penelope and her new husband who appears to be more interested in her money than in their relationship. Because their marriage was a formality to avoid scandal, I wasn't really emotionally invested in the couple. I was stumped as to what Willig was going to do to make things work out for this ill-suited couple.

Enter Captain Alex Reid - handsome and honorable, acting as an official escort to the couple as they travel to Hyderabad. With her husband more interested in enjoying the exotic women available for "entertainment", Penelope is often left alone without protection--and there is plenty of danger around. Spies, poisonous snakes, murder, stolen gold, and plots to overthrow British control all cause Penelope and Captain Reid to turn to each other as friends and allies...and maybe something more.

Eloise and Colin seemed to have a smaller part in Blood Lily, but their relationship is progressing nicely and Eloise is beginning to make some personal discoveries about Colin's present-day family in the Selwick-Alderly archives as well as academic material for her dissertation. We're left with a little intrigue surrounding the identity of Colin's stepfather.

All in all, another treat for Pink Carnation fans, who like me, just can't seem to get enough of flower spies, Napoleon, and romance.

P.S. Curiously, there is no spy with the moniker Blood Lily...there is the Marigold, and the sweet scents of exotic blooms, but no blood lily! I did a search and found that blood lily was meant to be descriptive of Penelope and not the spy featured in the novel. Glad that was cleared up, 'cause I thought I fell asleep while reading. ;)

3.5/5 stars
Title: The Betrayal of the Blood Lily
Author: Lauren Willig
genre: historical romance

Friday, November 5, 2010

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron by Stephanie Barron

"The restorative power of the ocean brings Jane Austen and her beloved brother Henry to Brighton after Henry's wife is lost to a long illness. But the crowded, glittering resort is far from peaceful, especially when the lifeless body of a beautiful young society miss is discovered in the bedchamber of none other than George Gordon--otherwise known as Lord Byron. As a poet and a seducer of women, Byron has carved out a shocking reputation for himself--but no one would ever accuse him of being capable of murder. Now it falls to Jane to pursue this puzzling investigation and discover just how "mad, bad, and dangerous to know" Byron truly is. And she must do so without falling victim to the charming versifier's legendary charisma, lest she, too, become a cautionary example for the ages."
(from the publisher)

my thoughts:

Since meeting Stephanie Barron at a book event this summer, I've had a few of her books on my TBR list, including some of the Jane Austen mystery series and The White Garden. I'm so glad I finally made time for Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron (although it is actually the tenth book in the series) as it is a clever mystery rich with authentic period detail. Fans of Jane Austen will enjoy Barron's depiction of the author as an intelligent and competent sleuth when she is not busy penning her popular, anonymous works.

Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron begins on a tragic note in April of 1813 -- the family has lost Eliza de Feuillide, Henry's wife and Jane's dear friend. Not wanting to allow her brother to suffer too long with grief, Jane makes a suggestion that Henry readily accepts.

"Our sister Jane has a decided inclination to visit the sea. She believes that a period of exposure to the salt air is as essential as balm to a wounded heart...I have consented to bear her company on an expedition to the seaside."

Expecting refreshment from a change in surroundings, Jane packs up her work-in-progress manuscript of Mansfield Park, and the brother and sister head to Brighton.

Written as journal entries, the reader begins to learn of Austen's experiences and thoughts about the trip. Almost immediately upon setting out on their journey, they make a very frightening discovery -- while stoppng to change horses, Jane hears moans coming from a nearby carriage, and is horrified at what she finds. This discovery sets off a chain of events, eventually culminating in a murder. All the evidence of the murder points to Lord Byron, the "mad, bad" poet who is notorious for his multiple paramours and drunken debauchery. Mingling with the glittering haut ton of Brighton, the still-in-mourning spinster Jane must remain discreet and use her keen observation skills and powers of deduction as a sleuth to put all the facts together and find the truth...and in the process, discovers for herself the powerful and charismatic aura of Lord Byron.

4/5 stars

Title: Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron (#10)
Author: Stephanie Barron
Bantam Books
genre: historical mystery

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dangerous to Know by Tasha Alexander

"Returning from her honeymoon with Colin Hargreaves and a near brush with death in Constantinople, Lady Emily convalesces at her mother-in-law's beautiful estate in Normandy. But the calm she so desperately seeks is shattered when, out horseback riding, she comes upon the body of a young woman who has been brutally murdered. The girl's wounds are identical to those inflicted on the victims of Jack the Ripper, who has wreaked havoc across the channel in London. Emily feels a connection to the young woman and is determined to bring the killer to justice.

Pursuing a trail of clues and victims to the beautiful medieval city of Rouen and a crumbling chateau in the country, Emily begins to worry about her own sanity: she hears the cries of a little girl she cannot find and discovers blue ribbons left in the child's wake. As Emily is forced to match wits with a brilliant and manipulative killer, only her courage, keen instincts, and formidable will to win can help her escape becoming his next victim."

(from the publisher)

my thoughts:

This was an interesting installment in the Lady Emily series (book #5), as for the first time we get an intimate look inside the mind of the lead character as she struggles physically, mentally, and emotionally after the recent upheavals in her life.

After coming close to losing her life and suffering a real tragedy while honeymooning in the Ottoman empire, the couple decide to spend some quiet time at the Normandy home of Madame Hargreaves to allow Lady Emily time to heal her physical and emotional wounds. From the very beginning, it is a struggle for her -- her mother-in-law is cold and unsupportive, she suffers another shock when she discovers a brutally murdered young woman in the woods while out riding, and her husband, while still loving and attentive, is becoming overprotective and attempting to restrict her freedom. Convinced she is strong enough to assist Colin and the local authorities in the murder investigation, Lady Emily begins to search for clues to the identity and background of the murder victim. But for every step she takes in the investigation, she is stalked as if my a phantom.....cryptic notes left in her bedroom in the middle of the night, mysterious blue ribbons left in her path, and the sounds of a crying child haunt her dreams. Lady Emily begins to question her own sanity and her husband is maddeningly condescending -- "Darling, you're not fully recovered're still so need your will obey me..."

We meet a colorful cast of characters in the French countryside, from the Markham and Prier families, each with their own skeletons in the closet and history of madness, the Impressionist painter, Monet, to some of our old friends from previous adventures, namely Cecile du Lac and Sebastian Capet, the endearingly charming "cat burglar." Tasha Alexander does a wonderful job of bringing the beauty and charm of the French countryside alive, and how all the pieces of the puzzle snap together makes Dangerous to Know another well-crafted, elegantly styled mystery.

3.5/5 stars

Title: Dangerous to Know
Author: Tasha Alexander
Minotaur Books
306 pages
genre: Victorian mystery

Monday, November 1, 2010

Arabella by Georgette Heyer

"An enchanting debutante and the eldest daughter of an impoverished country parson, Arabella Tallant embarks on her first London season. Armed with beauty, virtue, and a benevolent godmother, Arabella is sure to be a success, as long as her notoriously impetuous temper does not interfere.

But when Robert Beaumaris, the most eligible Nonpareil of the day, accuses her of being yet another pretty female after his wealth, Arabella allows herself to be provoked--into a deceitful charade that might have unexpected consequences."

(from the publisher)

my thoughts:

Arabella is one of Heyer's most charming tales -- I was so absorbed in the details of the excitement of the debutante's launch into London society that I hated to see the story come to an end! No one brings Regency England alive better than Heyer as she expertly blends cant, etiquette, fashion, and the world of the ton into her novels.

In this Cinderella-type story, pretty Arabella, the daughter of a country vicar, can't beleive her good fortune when she receives news that she is going to London to be launched into society with the help of her adoring godmother. With high hopes for a successful season, Arabella sets out on her adventure of a lifetime, but unfortunately, her carriage breaks along the way. She and her chaperone must seek shelter at a hunting lodge, and it is here that she meets dashing Robert Beaumaris, the wealthiest and most popular bachelor in London's high society.

Beaumaris infuriates Arabella when she overhears him speaking to his friend about her "staged" carriage accident. Arrogant and accustomed to fortune-seeking ladies, Beaumaris assumes her accident was all a part of a plan to meet him. Arabella's temper gets the better of her, and she proceeds to play the part of an heiress and lets Beaumaris know in no uncertain terms that she has no need for either him or his money.

This is a new situation indeed for Beaumaris -- an attractive debutante that is not falling all over herself to seek his attentions! He simply cannot resist getting to know this unique and spirited young lady better. He begins attending all of Arabella's parties and balls, and his presence at her functions creates quite a stir and results in Arabella being considered the belle of the season!

How these two come together (because you know the prince and princess always have a happy ending in fairy tales, right?) is a cute and witty story. Have no fear, Arabella turns the tables on Beaumaris, and it's not long before she has him jumping through hoops! This is one of Heyer's most endearing heroines, and I know I will want to read Arabella again and again.

5/5 stars
Title: Arabella
Author: Georgette Heyer
312 pages
Genre: Regency Romance

Favorite Period Dramas

Mount TBR

Joanne's to-read book montage

On a Highland Shore
A Light on the Veranda
The Queen's Vow: A Novel Of Isabella Of Castile
The Edwardians
Maisie Dobbs
Howards End
Lady's Maid
Instruments Of Darkness
When Maidens Mourn
Where Shadows Dance
What Remains of Heaven
Where Serpents Sleep
Why Mermaids Sing
When Gods Die
Before Ever After
The Sugar Queen
Garden Spells
After the Night

Joanne's favorite books »