Book Reviews, Regency Era, Regency Romance

The Best Intentions: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern – A Review

The Regency Romance Reading Challenge (2013)This is my fifth 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:

Hell is paved with good intentions.” ― Samuel Johnson

I just couldn’t resist throwing in this famous quote by the great literary genius, poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer of the 18th century, Samuel Johnson. His moral and literary influence on Jane Austen has been well documented by scholars. Austen’s inspiration on her beneficiaries including Georgette Heyer, the greatest Regency romance novelist of the 20th century, and now the next generation with Candice Hern gives her novel The Best Intentions six degrees of separation that writers dream about. The hero, heroine, antagonist and secondary characters all act with “good intentions” using moral judgment to rationalize their actions. What ensues is a social comedy of manners that takes a sly look at what motivates Society in the Regency era—and like Johnson, Austen, and Heyer, Hern gives us a dose of humor and romance to soften reality.

It is 1814. Peace is at hand in England after decades of war with France. Bonaparte has been exiled to Elba and British soldiers are returning home. Like Jane Austen’s novels, The Best Intentions is not about war or government politics. It is about two or three county families at a manor house in Northamptonshire and two people who do not want to marry anyone, but by social stricture must do so, and how the best intentions of their family and friends try to influence them.

Miles Prescott, the Earl of Strickland, has secretly put himself back on the marriage market after the death of his wife two years ago. After his failed first attempt to attach himself to a new bride two months ago at a country house party at Chissingworth, (A Garden Folly), he is dead set against a young romantic Miss and determined to find an older woman who has known love and only seeks security and comfort. He jokes that he will marry anyone who likes his two daughters, and, is young enough to give him an heir. His older sister Lady Tyndale is an unstoppable force. She is determined to see him married and arrives at Epping Hall with two cousins in tow: Lady Abingdon, a beautiful young widow, and her nineteen-year-old half-sister, bookish and unpolished Hannah Fairbanks. Presently acting as Hannah’s chaperone, Charlotte wants to “seriously pursue this fine lord without the added baggage of an unmarried, bookish bumpkin under her wing.” On the other hand, Hannah is not interested in courtship and marriage, at all. The only true pleasures in her life are books and architecture. The one reason she is being somewhat reasonable about this trip is to see St. Biddulph’s church near Eppingham, the most historically significant Saxon building in England.

Unpolished and impulsive, things pop out of Hannah’s mouth before she knows it, a bracing surprise to the earl and his guests at Epping Hall, but a humorous and enlightening for the reader! The contrast between this geekish colt of a girl and her calculating older sister is startling:

Men were stupid creatures, Hannah decided as she watched the earl and Mr. Wetherby chatting with Charlotte on the other side of the drawing room as they waited for dinner to be announced. How easily they fell victim to her sister’s manufactured charm. They appeared completely captivated. Charlotte had their undivided attention as she spoke to them in her whispery for-gentlemen-only voice.” p. 50

Image of the book cover of The Best Intentions, © Candice Hern 2012 Like Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice, Hern gives the reader the opportunity to question “what is the difference in matrimonial affairs between the mercenary and the prudent motive? Where does discretion end, and avarice begin?” Hannah may be straight out of the schoolroom, but she sees quite clearly the way of the world—the motivations of both men and women for matrimony—sex and money, and she wants no part of it. Lord Stickland has known love and lost it; he now is resigned to settle for an unromantic alliance. Will he choose the wife that his sister and his defeated spirit want, or the most unlikely of the two cousins?

Even though I guessed in the first chapter who would end up with whom, the character arch in The Best Intentions is one of the most memorable of Hern’s novels. Hannah Fairbanks is my favorite of her heroines: she is like a cross between Austen’s young, impressionable Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey and spirited and outspoken Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice; two heroines I greatly admire, who when combined cancel out their negative characteristics and blend to make one unique and delightful young lady. The reserved and practical Miles is a hunk to boot, so get ready for witty dialogue and swoon-worthy romance. I highly recommend it.

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

The Best Intentions: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern
CreateSpace (2012)
Trade paperback (232) pages
ISBN: 978-1479277599

A Grand Giveaway

Author Candice Hern has generously offered one print copy or one digital copy of The Best Intentions 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, May 28, 2013. Winner to be announced on Thursday, May 29, 2013. Print book shipment to US addresses only. Digital copy delivery internationally. Good luck!

Book cover image courtesy © Candice Hern 2012; text © 2013 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

33 thoughts on “The Best Intentions: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern – A Review”

  1. She is definitely flirting. ” in her whispery for-gentlemen-only voice.” I’m trying to think. Why do I like Jane Austen? I think it’s because of the conversations. People talked to each other during the Regency days. No one was in such a hurry he or she couldn’t stand and share a few words. Words that were often deep enough to give a hint of the person’s personality. It’s been so long. I’ve been thinking of reading some of Austens books again. My memory is growing dull, and I’m sure now that I’m older the Austen world would seem very different especially the conversations or just the way a body moves to the table or picks up a cup of tea or runs down the stairs.


  2. Loved this story! I couldn’t help but laugh out loud while reading the series of “passing the buck” by each of the gentlemen, while poor Hannah remained captive in the ancient crypt. Each man found something else more important than Hannah, whether it be wooing their lady love or hunting. The only gentlemen who had a valid reason was, of course, Miles, who ultimately was the one who had to see to getting Hannah home. Ms. Hern captured the mindset of these men so well I could recognize a few of my own male acquaintances. And, of course, the ultimate irony was Hannah’s reluctance to leave the crypt when Miles finally remembered her dilemma. I suspect this will be my favorite of Ms. Hern’s Regencies.


  3. I have not read the book but I think the ‘ bookish and unpolished Hannah ‘ would very quickly become my favourite character


  4. Just read the review of “The Best Intentions”. Haven’t read it yet, however,
    any heroine who can be compared to Elizabeth Bennett, is a heroine I would love to read about.


  5. What interests me about the book is that it is not a E&D P&P FF. I’ve mostly read only JAFF for the last 3 years and I’m ready to read something new to break it up…. before going back to E&D, of course. This book sounds interesting, it’s still Regency time period and a romance, count me in!


  6. Lauren Ann, we are in complete agreement over this one. I would have given it 5 stars as well. The hoydenish character of Hannah is one of the most compelling and attractive in regency literature. A brilliant scholar on the one hand and so totally artless in romance on the other, she is a total delight. Now, on to Candice Hern’s number next! I’d be remiss if I didn’t read them ALL.


    1. Oh dear! I just looked ahead in the reading challenge and alas, I have read EVERY ONE of the entries listed for Candice Hern except her newest release in September. Fellow readers, it is like eating a favorite food…..I just couldn’t stop until I read them ALL. Oh well…….


  7. I loved “A Garden Folly” and look forward to Hern’s story featuring the gentle and kind Earl of Strickland! And I love Laurel Ann’s review and reference to Samuel Johnson… Inspires me to delve more deeply into Austen’s writing… as well as Hern’s!


    1. When I wrote this comment, I hadn’t started the book, but once begun, I could hardly put it down till sadly it was over! You are right, Laurel Ann, it is totally delightful and Hannah may be my favorite heroine too! I absolutely fell in love with her!… And, I delighted in the humorous chasing-after-each-other ending and felt it was the perfect outcome for all those misdirected “Best Intentions!”


  8. I am enjoyning this challenge alot. Hannah was my favorite character…I liked her spirit. I could just feel how she felt as she was constantly corrected by her sister…………….


  9. I haven’t read this novel yet, but I have only recently in the last year or so come to the world of Regency romances. I’d read Austen, of course, but the newer authors are new to me and Hern has quickly become one of my favorite authors of the genre. What I particularly like about this storyline is that Hannah is more interested in books and architecture at the beginning of her journey. The idea of the self-educated woman, especially given its often overlooked historical parallels, always intrigues me. Loved the wit of the dialogue in the other Hern novels I’ve read, and I look forward to the conversational heft Hannah will bring.


  10. I hadn’t read A Garden Folly before reading this. out of print regencies are a pain to find. One reads what one can find. However, you don’t need to have read it before reading The Best Intentions. I agree with most of the reviewers in that this is a singular and well-written regencies, fairly crackling words and wit. Enjoyed it thoroughly!!!!


  11. Laurel Ann, I started to read this, and then remembered my “To Be Read” stack, and stopped. Then I remembered how much I like Candice Hern’s work, so I read it anyway. As I read your delightful review, I realized I’d probably really enjoy this book. The Johnson quote, the description of Hannah as being a cross between Catherine Morland and Elizabeth Bennet hooked me! Then I saw that Candice Hern is giving it away. What more could I ask for? Thank you for the opportunity, and the great review.


  12. I read a preview of this book and was intrigued by Hannah. I am also bookish and an awkward conversationalist. Though I dislike reading about widows and widowers, this story sounded really interesting. I’d love to win a print copy of this book.


  13. I have to confess….I actually had to read this right after I read the first book last month. I downloaded it to my Nook as soon as I finished “A Garden Folly”. I just could not wait to see what happened to Miles and Hannah. I actually think I enjoyed their journey more than last month’s selection. I really enjoy Hern’s detail.


  14. I really enjoyed Hannah as she developed more self confidence. Yes, of course, the outcome was predictable, but not the route to it. This one was great fun. (I’ve read them all by now but I do re-read these since I like them. So nice to have books I enjoy re-reading.)


  15. Thanks, everyone, for all the lovely comments about Hannah and Miles. This book was such fun to write. I’m glad you all enjoyed it. And, as always, many thanks to Laurel Ann for choosing my books for this challenge.

    Oh, and y u might be interested to know that next month’s book, MISS LACEY’S LAST FLING, is on sale for 99cents through the end of the month. Get it now while it’s cheap! :-)


  16. I have not read this one yet but I am very much looking forward to it. The Best Intentions sounds wonderful. I love that you described the heroine as a combination of Catherine Morland and Elizabeth Bennet. And I am always intrigued by a sweet love story!=)


  17. This novel sounds memorable and special. What a wonderful story. Hannah and Miles belong together. In other words, beshert. Love to read this exceptional story.


  18. I look forward to enjoying this book since it appeals to me greatly. the characters and the unique storyline is wonderful.


  19. I have not as yet read this novel but would love to since it combines such a beautiful story that resounds with me.


  20. Miles and Hannah – truly the perfect match. It was agonizing to read through the twists and turns until each opened their eyes and saw what was right in front of them. The series of debacles involved in getting Hannah out of the crypt were entertaining to say the least. (And how is it that we women find it all completely believable? Not much change in 200 years you say?) However the author used it to show us just how steady and loving this “hoyden” is, and the scene of Miles entering the church and hearing a lullaby being sung nearly brought tears to my eyes. My only criticism is I didn’t find Lady Abingdon’s cheerful reaction at being overthrown by her younger sister, who she found so disagreeable so very often, believable. Being thrown over was a social horror, and by your own sister? Gracious! At least their little social group found the entire affair amusing, so all faces were saved.
    P.S.- If delightful, cheerful, loving, in-the-moment Hannah could be labeled a hoyden and a bluestocking, all I can say is sign me up! She is by far and away my favorite character in this challenge so far.


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