A Change of Heart: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern – A Review

The Regency Romance Reading Challenge (2013)This is my second selection in the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013, our celebration of Regency romance author Candice Hern. We will be reading all of her traditional Regencies over the next nine months, discussing her characters, plots and Regency history. You can still join the reading challenge until July 1, 2013. Participants, please leave comments and or links to your reviews for this month in the comment section of this post.

My Review:

Notorious rakes can be interesting heroes. They bring out the “fix-it project” in any female. On the other hand, on-the-shelf spinsters can be totally perplexing to the female mind which is inclined to want to couple. Mix those two personalities together and you have the premise of A Change of Heart: A Regency Romance, the second novel in the Regency Rakes Trilogy by Candice Hern. What do you do with two complex characters who are happy with their life choices but forced to break down their barriers of hope and trust? We shall see.

Lady Mary Haviland is the twenty-nine-year-old daughter of the late Earl Assheton. As his sole heir, she inherited this estate affording her the freedom of independence so rare in a Regency lady—and she rather likes it that way—since she believes that as an ugly, insignificant and unmarried lady she can do as she chooses. She has many friends including is Emily Bradleigh, who we were first introduced to as the heroine in A Proper Companion, the first book in this trilogy. She also has a soft spot for rouges. “They are so much more honest in their approach to life that the usual paragons of propriety.” The rogue that has recently caught her eye is the notorious Black Jack Raeburn, the thirty-seven year old third son of a marquess, who because he was so far removed down the line of succession of his father’s estate never thought he need be anything more than the dissolute ne’er-do-well that he has spent the last twelve years perfecting. His life recently changed dramatically when his father, two elder brothers, and nephew all died in a boating accident a year ago. Now as the Marquess of Pemerton, he has inherited six heavily mortgaged estates and all the responsibility thereto. He must quickly find a bride to assure the succession and refresh the family fortune.

Lady Mary introduces herself at a party and proposes her assistance to “steer him through the rocky shoals of the Marriage Mart.” She claims she offers her services in the name of friendship and for her own amusement. She has no interest in him or marriage herself. Since Jack has never had a female friend before he is intrigued and accepts her invitation. He finds her not only quite clever, but her knowledge of sorting out the eligible misses is indispensable to him—but what is her real motive for her generosity? As they progress down her long list of possible young ladies, Lord Pemerton finds plausible reasons to eliminate many of them: too beautiful, too clumsy, too smart, too plump, too dull, etc. One candidate has remained: Miss Lillian Carstairs who seems to fill the bill, namely she is rich and not too offensive.

Word gets out around the ton that he is on the hunt for a wife, but only Jack knows the true reason why. Even his close friend Lord Sedgewick thinks he is as rich as Midas until Jack confides his dire financial mess that he inherited and need to marry an heiress.

Fortune hunter?” Sedgewick gave a shudder that shook his entire frame. “Don’t blame you, old man. Ugly label, that. Not a pretty situation.” “Indeed,” Jack said. “And so although I have in fact publicly entered the Marriage Mart for the Season, I am only truly considering those young women who can help me out of this dreadful coil.

Soon after, his other dear friend Lord Bradleigh reveals that Lady Mary is very wealthy, but has a sad past. Jack has a new plan. “It was all too deliciously easy. He felt like the goose had deposited a golden egg right in his lap. Mary was rich!” With no male relatives to dictate her fortune, he believes she will be easy pickings. But how will he make the switch from friendship to suitor? Of course, he uses all of his finely honed seduction skills which Mary finds outrageous and laughs off. Convinced that no man would ardently flirt with someone so ugly, she believes that being a rogue is so ingrained in him that he is seducing her out of instinct and not because he wishes to love her.

A Change of Heart, by Candice Hern (2012)And therein lies the rub. We have been presented with two very different personalities who one assumes are wholly unsuitable for one another. A charming, handsome rogue who could have any woman he wanted and a self-sufficient unattractive spinster who is determined to remain so. How they come together, and, well this is a romance so you know they will, in the end, is a delightful discovery.

Hern has given us an amusing story with strong and unusual protagonists supported by excellent secondary characters. I loved Lady Mary’s companion, widow Olivia Bannister, whose unexpected romance with Jack’s uncle, Edward Maitland, also a bachelor rogue of the first order and his mentor in hedonism, almost rivals the main hero and heroine’s love affair. While I admired the strong, complex characters that Hern crafted and their troubling back story, Lady Mary was by far my favorite and Lord Pemerton not so much. He was a true rake easily slipping back into his dissipated ways when their romance was tested, and I never quite believed that he changed enough to become the man that Lady Mary deserved. Overall, it was an excellent and engaging romance full of funny, sharp dialogue, and beautiful Regency-era descriptions.

4.5 out of 5 Regency Stars

A Change of Heart: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern
CreateSpace (2012)
Trade paperback (276) pages
ISBN: 978-1479106394

A Grand Giveaway

Author Candice Hern has generously offered one print copy or one digital copy of A Change of Heart to one lucky winner. Leave a comment stating what intrigues you about this novel, or if you have read it, who your favorite character is by midnight PT, Wednesday, March 6, 2013. Winner to be announced on Thursday, March 7, 2013. Print book shipment to US addresses only. Digital copy delivery internationally. Good luck!

© 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

36 thoughts on “A Change of Heart: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern – A Review

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  1. I like a story about a more mature lady who has to figure out if independence is worth more than marriage. The story line is somewhat similar to two of Georgette Heyer’s books, but in both stories, the man sweeps away any doubts because he loves the woman for who she is and how they interrelate and enjoy each other pre-marriage.


  2. I had seen this somewhere??? and thought – looks interesting but I have a lot on my reading list now– and moved on. Your stellar review has made me rethink that! Will read sooner than later. Sounds like just my kinda novel! Thanks for the recommendation.


  3. I think what intrigues me most about this book is how it doesn’t use many common stereotypes of the day – it involves very unusual characters that you would never read about in many of the classics. Very cool.


  4. I am intrigued by the name. After reading the review, who’s heart was changed? The hero or the heroine? And how was it changed? I always look at the art on the book cover and I loved this one. Very pretty! I would love to read this novel and the whole series.


  5. I truly enjoyed this book. I particularly like the fact that it’s sort of a continuation of the previous book. I was so happy for Lady Mary in realizing that she can be loved for herself.


  6. I always like books where the hero and heroine are friends first, and also those where they develop feelings for each other without realising it, which is what seems to me could be what happens here. It would be interesting to see how they come up with the idea of her advising him. I have read a few of Candice’s books and enjoyed them, I’d like to read this one.


  7. Lady Mary is now one of my all time favorites. Much different from Lady Mary of Dowton Abbey fame. This Lady Mary is warm, witty and not too full of herself. She recognizes who and what she is and accepts it; remarkable in any woman. I enjoyed this book so much that I finished the 3rd book immediately. These three books were my “constant campanions” when I had pneumonia. I have already re-read the first. Thank you for introducing me to these women.


  8. Having already devoured A Proper Companion, I don’t need much persuading to begin on this one because I love Candice Hern’s style. Great review and I likewise encourage any reader to take up the 2013 Regency Romance Reading Challenge.


  9. I have not yet read any novels by Candice Hern, but am adding titles to my wish list. I love regency romances. Thanks for introducing me to this author, and a big thanks for the giveaway.


  10. This was great fun. I had never heard Hern until the challenge but have read the first three books. I like the way all 3 have intertwining characters and see a huge similarity to the Pink Carnation series. I enjoyed Lady Mary’s spunk!


  11. I had to read this one a second time to appreciate it. Loved that both Lady Mary and Olivia (a spinster and a widow, respectively) were able to bring those two rogues around. And I was especially delighted that the dowager Lady Bradleigh “reappeared” to help Lady Mary when she was so distraught.


  12. I’m always struck by your wonderful accounts, Laurel Ann, and particularly so in this case! I have been re-reading Hern’s book to be able to write my response, not having enjoyed it quite as much as the first book, but after your summary, I appreciate it so much more! I did love Lady Mary and admired her spunk and delightful personality. Loved the way she won over Jack’s mother and family and brightened their lives. Jack was not my favorite hero, but I came to like him too at the end… And once again, I would have enjoyed having the resolution at the end to be longer, and more detailed… I love relishing the happy ending a little more, you see! :-)


  13. Probably the thing that intrigues me the most is this quote about rogues: “They are so much more honest in their approach to life that the usual paragons of propriety.”
    I never really thought about WHY we love reading about Regency rogues (or any rogues for that matter), but that line makes sense! The rake or rogue character is so honest; he doesn’t care for propriety or what people say. Of course, I have to say that I prefer when the rogue is a hero in disguise and when he rebels for a reason (not just to rebel to have more fun)…but I digress! :) Thanks for posting this review and giveaway!


  14. I have fallen for Hern’s Regency trilogy! This installment was even a better read than the first. The characters were real and fun. I loved that they were imperfect and had a genuine friendship. So many times in the romance genre we jump into first sight – passion. Brava Ms. Hern!


  15. Lady Mary sounds like a wonderful character, and I have always enjoyed stories about strong minded women and the rakes who love them.


  16. Hi! I cannot wait to read this book! The prospect of Black Jack Raeburn sounds exciting…he sounds very clever and sly but also fun. I am intrigued to read his plots and schemes as the novel progresses. :)


  17. Thanks so much, everyone, for all the kind words about my book! I’m glad to have found so many new readers. Mary has remained one of my favorite heroines. I realize Jack is less sympathetic, but I still love him. :-)


  18. I’ve read a couple of her short stories and loved them, so I am looking forward to reading more. I especially like that the characters are friends before they become involved romantically.


  19. I absolutely loved this book. I cannot begin to say how happy I am that I joined this challenge. Every book I have read of Ms Hern’s has been wonderful. I loved the relationship between Lady Mary and Lord Pemerton. The whole story was delightful! I always enjoy a good misunderstanding! Thanks for the giveaway!!=)


  20. I enjoyed the very unusual position of Lady Mary but found her relationship with Black Jack unrealistic. That said, it still was fun to read and Olivia was my favorite character. (Note: Read as book 2 of the trilogy on my Kindle. I really prefer paper — my Kindle doesn’t get me to the right page fast enough.)


  21. This is the 2nd book in a seris of regency rakes trilogy. In this book we continue the story of one of Lord Bradleigh’s friends. Jack,Lord Pemerton has recently assumed his father’s title which he gained because his 2 elder brothers,father and nephew all perished in a boating accident. A confirmed bacholor and Rake he must now marry and marry soon. He has realised the state of his father’s affairs and they seem grim. Anyway while he is taking in the season he meets Lady Mary Haviland who at 29 is an old maid. She offers to help him find a bride and so the story takes off from there. She’s witty and inpertient and he is still the dangerous rake and so there friendship developes. There are lots of secrets being kept which get in the way of romance but in the end love does win. The journey was full of angst but the end result was worth it. A definite must read


  22. This is my second Candice Hern Regency Romance – not my usual fare, but I am loving it. I was delighted with the story of two unconventional people finding their true selves in each other. A wonderful story.


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