Hi all! So, today I’m giving you another double dose. Although, technically it’s more of a triple dose as I’m throwing in a novella as well. This time I’m doing two completely different authors who both write Regency, but in their own unique way. For starters, there’s Julie Klassen, a long time favorite author of mine, who writes the more outskirts of the Regency era, and her recent novel The Painter’s Daughter. Then there’s Kristi Ann Hunter, a new author, who does a beautiful job written about the nuances of the ton in her debut novel A Noble Masquerade and companion novella, A Lady of Esteem. Each is unique, but each is well written and wonderful Regency tales. So, ready to get started?
Let’s begin with Julie Klassen’s The Painter’s Daughter.
Sophie Dupont assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. In private, she paints the picturesque north Devon coast, popular with artists–including handsome Wesley Overtree, who seems more interested in Sophie than the landscape.
Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother Wesley’s responsibilities. Near the end of his leave, he is sent to find his brother and bring him home. Upon reaching Devonshire, however, Stephen is stunned to learn Wesley has sailed for Italy and left his host’s daughter in serious trouble.
Stephen feels duty-bound to act, and strangely protective of the young lady, who somehow seems familiar. Wanting to make some recompense for his own past failings as well as his brother’s, Stephen proposes to Mis
s Dupont. He does not offer love, but marriage “in name only” to save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he fears, she will at least be a respectable widow.
Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie finds herself torn between her first love and this brooding man she barely knows. Dare she wait for Wesley to return? Or should she elope with the captain and pray she doesn’t come to regret it?
This lovely novel by the talented Julie Klassen just showcases her amazing talent as a Regency author. Unafraid to dive into heavier topics, she none-the-less delivers a heartwarming tale. Sophie is sweet, demure, and lives to be her father’s assistant, loving to paint, but just for herself or her father. She never expected to fall for Wesley, or for him to walk out of her life. When Stephen comes looking for his life-loving brother, he didn’t expect to find a compromised Sophie. Doing the honorable thing, he offers his hand, and Sophie accepts the ‘marriage-in-name-only’. These two are beautifully written, especially together; though neither sets out wishing for more, they form a bond that slowly becomes something more. But when Wesley arrives, he shatters the peace that both have found, and Sophie must wrestle with her feelings for her first love against those of the man who married her. I found this one of the most beautifully written love stories I’ve had the pleasure of it enjoying. Add to that, there is a deeply moving message of redemption woven into the pages. Though not as suspense-filled as Julie Klassen’s other novels, it is still none-the-less a beautiful novel, with wonderfully written characters, and deep messages that touch the heart.
And now for Kristi Ann Hunter’s wonderful tales, starting with her novella A Lady of Esteem.
Miss Amelia Stalwood may live in London at her absent guardian’s townhouse, but she’s never actually met any nobility, and instead of aristocrats, her closest friends are servants. Quite by Julie happenstance, she’s introduced to the Hawthorne family and their close family friend, Anthony, the reformed Marquis of Raebourne . They welcome her into their world, but just as she’s beginning to gain some confidence and even suspect she may have caught Anthony’s eye, she’s blindsided by an unexpected twist in her situation accompanied by nasty rumors. Will she lose her reputation when the world that has only just accepted her turns its back on her, or will she rest in the support of the friends who’ve become like family and the man who’s shared his faith and captured her heart?
What a wonderful debut novella to introduce us to Kristi Ann Hunter’s Hawthorne House series! Amelia is a sweet character, outside of normal society, but happy in her place. She never expected to be thrust into society, or to find such good friends in the Hawthorne family, and she especially didn’t expect to fall for their long-time friend, Anthony. Anthony, for his worth, is a true gentleman, and very kind, though even he is taken aback by Amelia’s kindness towards those considered below her. But, when scandal erupts, will she lose everything she has just gained, or will her faith see her through? Wonderfully written story, with lovable characters, along with some comical moments and witty banter, this is a great start to this series.
And now for the novel, A Noble Masquerade.
Lady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, the Duke of Marshington. Since she’s never actually met the man she has no intention of ever sending the letters and is mortified when her brother’s mysterious new valet, Marlow, mistakenly mails one of the letters to the unsuspecting duke.
Shockingly, this breach of etiquette results in a reply from the duke that soon leads to a lively correspondence. Insecurity about her previous lack of suitors soon becomes confusion as Miranda finds herself equally intrigued by Marlow, a man she has come to depend upon but whose behavior grows more suspicious by the day. As the secret goings-on at her family’s estate come to light, one thing is certain: Miranda’s heart is far from all that’s at risk for the Hawthornes and those they love.
What I think?
The debut novel for this author, and this series, is at times both fun and serious, that blend well with the romance. Miranda is a beautiful character, a strong woman with a free spirit who has learned, though still fights, to be a polished lady. For years she has written to her brother’s friend, the only person she felt could understand her nature, and pours all her frustrations with society into the letters. She never expected him to ever read them, or to write back. Then there’s Marlow, a kind man with strong convictions who doesn’t seem to fit his role of Valet. I loved the interactions between these characters, and the written letters between Miranda and the duke. There’s great banter, along with some sweet romances. And to top it all off is a great mystery filled with intrigue as a spy searches for traitors in Miranda’s own house. The characters are well written, with wonderful dialogue, and the setting is beautiful. The intrigue is suspenseful, with a good dose of adventure, and the romance is fun to read and heartwarming. All in all, it’s wonderful Regency and one I recommend to fans of the genre.
You can find more about this wonderful debut author on her website, and of course follow on Facebook and Twitter. A Lady of Esteem is free for both Kindle and NOOK, and A Noble Masquerade is also available for Kindle and NOOK, and also paperback.
I hope you enjoy these books as much as I did!