Tag: harrison

Review: The Lonely Lord by Audrey Harrison

Posted August 18, 2019 by Mary Kingswood in Review / 0 Comments

This is an author I’ve been meaning to catch up with for a while, but this is the first book of hers I’ve got round to reading and it was an interesting one. There are not many authors with the nerve to tackle a hero like Anthony Russell, the Earl of Lever. He’s a man completely uncomfortable in social settings, never knowing the right thing to say, honest to the point of bluntness and oblivious to the subtle nuances of conversation. The author sets it down to a neglectful childhood, but I’d have said it was some variant of autism myself. Whatever the cause, Anthony is very believably portrayed.

And in Julia Price, we have another unusual character – not the customary debutante, nor even the almost-on-the-shelf spinster, but a widow with a young son. And not a rich widow, either, for Julia is virtually destitute, dependent on her grandmother’s charity. And there’s one more element to Julia’s life that makes her unusual, for her husband was a violent man. So we have two very interesting characters, and a highly original pairing for a Regency novel.

This was my second book on the trot to feature Bath as a backdrop, and again the author makes the city and its attractions very believable. Less believable (to me) is the premise that Anthony has to marry before his thirtieth birthday or lose a large part of his fortune. I understand the plot benefits of such a deadline, but anyone reading a regular diet of Regency romances would imagine that all fathers of the era were devoted to wildly eccentric wills. However, be that as it may, the author at least understands the legal constraints, so the title and entailed fortune are still Anthony’s, but if he fails in this task, his younger step-brother will be a great deal better off. His step-mother conforms to the conventions of wicked step-mothers everywhere by doing her level best to ensure that her own son inherits as much as possible.

And so the stage is set, and, once Julia’s grandmother and Anthony’s grandfather meet up and rekindle an old friendship, it’s only a matter of time before the two principals are hurtling towards the altar. Naturally there are a few wrinkles along the way, driven by minor characters and Julia’s son, but the eventual outcome is never in doubt. Julia’s abusive husband almost comes between them at one point but this is easily swept aside. In fact, I felt too little was made of her history, and perhaps it could have been used to add an additional layer of depth to the story. The real obstacle – Anthony’s social awkwardness – is really the only thing keeping them apart. I’m not sure that the way Anthony rises to the challenges before him at the end of the book is completely convincing, but by that point I was willing to go along with it and cheer him on.

There were a few niggles with the writing – not complaints, but stylistic choices of the author’s that didn’t quite sit right with me. For instance, a line like, ‘“I wouldn’t do that,” he warned…’ instead of the cleaner ‘he said’. Sometimes that felt like repetition, and I found it distracting. And too often we’d be told that it was the first time a character had said or done something, which felt too much like telling instead of showing for my taste. Purely a personal preference issue, though, and otherwise the writing was excellent. I only spotted one historical inaccuracy, in a mention of legal adoption – not a thing until well after the Regency. Informal adoption was commonplace, but there was no legal process for it until 1926. But that’s a minor detail.

This was an interesting and brave story from Audrey Harrison, which I enjoyed despite a few minor niggles and will certainly be reading more of her work in the future. A good four stars.

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Review: ‘Return to the Regency’ by Audrey Harrison

Posted January 19, 2018 by Mary Kingswood in Review / 0 Comments

This is such a lovely idea! Who wouldn’t want to be picked up after a difficult year and offered the chance to go back to the Regency era for a couple of weeks? With money, servants, accommodation – everything provided. Even a fairy godmother. Who could fail to be healed and comforted by the gentle manners of two hundred years ago? But for Catherine, it doesn’t quite work out as expected.

And that pretty much summarises this book, too. What should be a delightful escapist read turns out to be… well, rather dull. The modern-day part of the story just didn’t capture my interest and the Regency part was not much more than a run-down of Regency life in Bath. Now, the details were fascinating, and a salutary reminder that, however romantic the Regency seems when it’s got Colin Firth in it, in reality that part of history was really pretty unpleasant. The clothes were uncomfortable, the food was barely edible and the perfect manners concealed a great deal of misbehaviour. And then there’s the healthcare…

But while the author’s research has obviously been pretty thorough, the rest of the book is less up to snuff. The characters are either very good or totally villainous, and it’s not difficult to spot which is which. I’d have liked either heroine Catherine or hero Chris to display something less than goody-two-shoes virtue, which gets a bit tedious after a while. And the inevitable misunderstanding between them is horribly cliched. Then there’s a plot twist at the end which felt utterly contrived.

Now, if this sounds very critical, I did actually enjoy the story quite a bit. It’s a gentle, easy read with two pleasant main characters and a resounding HEA. My only problem with it is that it’s not a Regency romance, it’s really a contemporary romance with a portal element, and if that’s your thing, you might well enjoy it more than I did. But it wasn’t really my cup of tea, so that keeps it to three stars.

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