Miss Lacey’s Last Fling: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern – A Review

To be considered over the hill at age twenty-six seems outrageous today, but in Regency times, young ladies married in their mid-teens or became spinsters who cared for their parents and siblings children. Tragically our heroine Rosie, eldest daughter of Sir Edmund Lacey of Wycombe Hall, Devonshire, did not have a choice to marry young and now resides “on the shelf” where Society places ladies who are not deemed marriageable.

Since her mother’s early demise ten years ago, she has quietly raised her five siblings without complaint. Now that they are all settled, and she can think of herself beyond being a substitute nanny/housekeeper/mother, she discovers that she too is afflicted with the same malady that took her mother’s life. With only six months to live she wants to “burst out of her tight laces before it is too late” and experience everything she has been deprived of: a life in London away from her dry as a twig father and overbearing younger sister to discover the delights of Society, the opera, theatre, museums and a bit of scandalous romance too. Who better to introduce her to the life she craves than her notorious Aunt Fanny? Against her family’s wishes, she sets off for Miss Lacey’s Last Fling.

Widow Frances, Lady Parkhurst is not keen to chaperone her priggish, docile, country mouse niece who lands on her Berkeley Square doorstep. Her young friend, the notorious rake Maxwell Davenant, does not think much of her obligation to help her niece and immediately decline any assistance in the endeavor. After eighteen seasons and half of his life spent in pursuit of women, drink, and gambling, he is bored to distraction. This dowdy Miss does not interest him in the least. Whatever could Fanny be thinking? The absurdity of Lady Parkhurst being a chaperone to any respectable young lady was, however, delightfully intriguing.

Rosie arrives all wide-eyed and frumpy as expected, but immediately surprises her aunt with the admission that she is not there to entrap a husband—but to see the sights and have a good time. She confides that she has always admired her aunt because she did exactly what she wanted to do, and now she wants to do the same, starting with a complete makeover. She wants to look “sophisticated, worldly and rightly flirt with a rake.” Her surprising honesty wins Lady Parkhurst over and they set their plan in motion: off to the dressmaker for a completely new wardrobe of brightly colored frocks and to the hairdresser to shear off her long locks into a fashionably cropped style.

Her first official social outing is a rout filled with “fresh-faced young fops to seasoned rakes to aging roués,” and one jaded Max Davenant who does not recognize the ravishing young lady standing next to Lady Parkhurst receiving all the attention in the room. Rosalind’s nose is still too long and her mouth too wide to be considered a reputed beauty, but she cuts a dashing figure in her new frock and sheared hairstyle. He is intrigued. Could a man tainted by years of debauchery and seduction be interested in a twenty-six-year-old anti-debutant who has no interest in marriage and just wants to have fun? Heck YES!

After a private conversation with the notorious Max on the terrace, Rosie can now mark flirting with a rake off her list of what she wants to experience. Here’s what’s next:

  • Visit the Tower of London
  • Drive a sporting vehicle
  • Ride in a sedan chair
  • Be thoroughly kissed

Max and Aunt Fanny aid in her headlong fling through London Society scandalizing matrons at Almack’s, sipped gin with the Dandies and Corinthians at the Daffy Club and to gamming hell on Jermyn Street. There is nothing she won’t try when consequences do not signify. Max and Rosie appear to be complete opposites, but are they?

A fun frolic from beginning to end, I have not been so thoroughly entertained in years. I laughed; I cried, and could not put it down. You too will be delighted by Miss Lacey and her unabashedly adventurous spirit. Who could not love a woman who during a time when social decorum and appearances were everything, she throws propriety out the window and turns society on its ear? Hern’s historical research is as impeccable as always, but it is her characterizations that really shine. From the hysterically over-the-top Aunt Fanny (the Aunty Mame of the Regency Ton) and the depraved lost soul of Max Davenant, you will be charmed and enchanted with every scene. Following Rosie or the transformed Rosalind, on her journey will send you into peals of laughter with her high spirits and outrageous antics. Rosie might have started off as a milk and water miss, but Rosalind is a diamond of the first water!

5 out of 5 Stars

Miss Lacey’s Last Fling: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern
CreateSpace (2012)
Trade paperback (232) pages
ISBN: 978-1479278084

Cover image courtesy of Candice Hern © 2012; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2013, Austenprose

26 thoughts on “Miss Lacey’s Last Fling: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern – A Review

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    1. I have read it now- and I am sorry, I would only give 3 out of 5 stars if I were to evaluate.
      I expected something in the line of Georgette Heyer. I “come from there” …

      Instead it was overly sexualized, the language of the daughter telling about her doings in London was not the kind I’d expect a daughter of that time to use with her father (I am not 100% sure, but I do not think they used the word pregnant at all, rather “to be with child” or “to be expecting”) and all in all it was too short.
      Where Mrs. Heyer excelled in sparkling dialogues Ms. Hern mostly adds action on action. If she had added more of the genuine dialogues that WERE flirtation back then – and if she had refrained from letting her heroine curse, repeatedly – and if she had used the brother for more than a useful tool to disguise Rosalind, maybe I would have agreed with 5 stars. So it is intermediate in my humble opinion.
      I liked the idea and I liked the end – and that is why it gets three stars from me at all, cos “all is well that ends well” ;) I did not like the whole book, I am sorry. And no, I am not prudish, I just think a sexscene is something that should be used very, very sparsely in a novel. Let the mind of the reader do the work, no need to get explicit most of the time. Trust your reader, dear authors. Are the other Hern novels like that?


  1. I have read this one, and I would agree with you, it’s masses of fun! I loved Rosalind, and her transformation was almost matched by Max’s. Please don’t enter me into the giveaway, I already have the ebook, just wanted to comment :)


  2. Sounds like a good read – a woman determined and finally able to enjoy life and do what she wants in such a confining society while perceived to be too old


  3. I agree that this was an over the top fun read and perhaps the most enjoyable yet, of all Candice Hern’s stories I’ve read so far! I believe Aunt Fanny was my favorite, with her wonderful outrageousness, but underlying kindness, good humor, and wise council, though it’s hard to not choose Rosie, who is such a genuine good person, yet is willing to risk everything to experience life before it’s too late! You have to admire her daring and courage!


    1. Hi Carol, I am so glad you enjoyed it. It makes me giggle just to think about Rosie’s adventures! This is one of those books you pull out when you need a pick-me-up. There is no way anyone can remain sad or depressed after reading it. It could be the ultimate Regency tickler.


      1. Indeed! It was a very welcome companion while I sat by my husband’s bed in the hospital! It did allow me to escape my worries for a bit! One just wishes the good ones could go on and on! :-)


  4. Oh my gosh–this sounds fantastic! I love the idea of a second chance at life and living with no regrets. I need to find out what happens!


  5. I like everything I have read of Candice Hern’s so far and I really like the idea of someone changing the course of their life and being able to reinvent themselves.


  6. I read this one also and exhausted Candice Hern’s reading challenge list far too soon. Well, her stories and talentl are simply brilliant and this one is a gem. (Now waiting for her latest offering to go public sometime in September)

    Your review, LA, is spot-on and highlights this oh-so deserving and delightful heroine. Read it through twice to appreciate all the nuance and detail….


  7. Like Jeffrey, I have made a rapid run through all of Candice Hern’s writings early on in your challenge and have found them all delightful! This one in particular is now a favorite and seeing Rosalind tackle life head-on when she thinks she has nothing to lose is great fun – and the Hero isn’t bad either! I am looking very much forward to seeing her in Minneapolis where she will be speaking on Ladies’ Magazines and sharing her collection of Regency-era “stuff”…

    I read this on my kindle – would love a real book! – thanks Laurel Ann for this challenge – otherwise I don’t think I would have discovered Ms. Hern!


  8. I have read several of her books and found them to be interesting and entertaining. I am looking forward to reading this book.
    WB I


  9. I think this is my favorite. I finished the reading list 3 months ago so now it is time to go back through. I think I will start with this one. Rosie was perfect and was so thrilled with being able to get away from the family and the structure of her life. What better way than to have a fling..


  10. I am wondering how it can neatly end. The dread of 6 months gives her the freedom, but how to extricate yourself neatly without becoming cliche will be funto read. The other alternative is to go the Nicholas Sparks route, wich no self-respecting regency romance would do.


  11. This story is an easy one to identify with and wish you could have a come-out to match. Many women today delay entering the marriage pool for a variety of reasons, including the one that Miss Lacey had, and would love to have a sponsor take charge. Of course, we don’t quite have the environment for the soirees that she attended. I definitely enjoyed this one!


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