From the desk of Katie Jackson:
“Country roads, take me home . . . To the place I belong” were the song lyrics that meandered through my mind as I read these three stories about fine London ladies discovering the unexpected people and places they never knew they needed. This collection is the first book in a new Georgian-era series from Mirror Press, which is well-known for its other Timeless Romance Anthology® series that are set in the Regency and Victorian eras. Readers will immediately recognize the skilled writing of the highly regarded historical romance authors who contributed to Her Country Gentleman.
Spring at Tribbley Hall
Author Sian Ann Bessey welcomes readers to Tribbley Hall in Norfolk, near the sea, where Miss Charlotte Densley and her grandmother are visiting her grandmother’s friend Lady Cheston and her son William, Lord Cheston.
Charlotte had spent most of her life surrounded by the strict proprieties of London. “She was not quite sure what to make of this baron who dressed as a farm laborer and found humor in the world around him.” (Loc 457)
William prides himself on his direct involvement in the success of his estate, much to the chagrin of his mother, who expects him to behave more like a proper gentleman. He is surprised by the refreshing nature of his mother’s young house guest.
“What set her apart from other young ladies of his acquaintance was her willingness to openly share her emotions. There was no hiding behind fans for Miss Densley. He had yet to see her feign indifference or enthusiasm.” (Loc 656)
Mischief is afoot, in more than one quarter, and an unexpected villain emerges from their midst. Charlotte and William must work together, fulfilling the expectations of some mischief-makers while thwarting the attempts of another. It’s an action-packed tale for a couple of well-matched and forthright risk-takers.
Love of My Heart
Author Sarah M. Eden invites readers to retrench to Scotland along with the wealthy Wakefield family, who are down on their luck. Born and bred in London, Cordelia Wakefield cannot fathom life anywhere else. But to Scotland they must go, for the less expensive lodgings and the benefit of their sad decline in fortune not being witnessed by Society. Cordelia is determined to make the best of her new situation, learning to appreciate her surroundings by practicing her art with painting and sketching. “Her art transformed her.” (Loc 1656). But her parents have other plans for her.
Sebastian Coburn was well-traveled, well-educated, and the heir to the Laird of Teviotbrae. But his grandfather will not acknowledge their connection, so Sebastian must work on the home farm of the very estate he was born on and will one day be the master of. He is determined to prove his worth to everyone around him—especially his grandfather—with hard work. “It sometimes felt like he had nothing of significance to offer anyone else.” (Loc 1663)
As the artist and the farmer sort out the mysteries they have hidden from each other, they must fight the disapproval of their benefactors to gain the contentment they seek. “When a situation cannot be changed, we are wise to find what happiness we can.” (Loc 2024)
Miss Smith Goes to Wiltshire
Author Rebecca Connolly exiles readers to the countryside along with Miss Martha Smith, who is being sent as a punishment by her mother to stay with her cousin who had the audacity to marry for love. Surely Martha will witness the unfortunate circumstances her cousin now endures and cease her ignorant insistence that she must choose a love match for herself.
“No one of sense married for love.
Apparently.” (Loc 2610)
What Martha witnesses instead is precisely what she wishes for—a joyful home life created by a loving and mutually respectful union. She quickly embraces her newfound knowledge and independence in Wiltshire. “She was becoming a newer version of herself, for good or for ill, and she had a feeling her mother would not like that at all.” (Loc 2933)
Benjamin Steele, the new Earl of Hillier, has inherited an abandoned estate in utter disrepair, with no tenants and no servants and no funds. He spends each day toiling on the property, attempting to make something from nothing and feeling his failures.
When hopeful Martha meets hopeless Benj, they are drawn to each other’s charming simplicity.
“Martha made him smile from the blessed moment she arrived to the unfortunate moment she departed, and for hours on end in her absence.
He felt less burdened in her company, less unfortunate than his circumstances, less prone to gloom. He was less of an imposter to his title when she was with him. Less of a misfit. Less uncomfortable.
He did not need to be anything but what he was with Martha, and she saw him just as he was.” (Loc 3407)
But when Martha’s overbearing mother and Benj’s overwhelming self-doubt interfere, will they ever have a chance for the happily-ever-after they both desire?
Country Gentlemen, London Ladies, and Memorable Creatures
Although I enjoyed each story and greatly admire each of these authors’ talents, I must say that my favorite story in the collection was “Miss Smith Goes to Wiltshire” by Rebecca Connolly. I love how the author’s wry humor and deep wisdom shines through every delectably quotable line. So many more than I could realistically feature here.
Animals make endearing appearances throughout the book—with sheep playing a role in all of the stories, and piglets or puppies in some—as they help connect the couples. The country gentlemen admire the fine ladies for being refreshingly unaffected by the filth, chaos, and impropriety of country life. Considering the sheltered, gently bred lives of these fine ladies, I found this aspect of the stories a bit implausible, but charming, nonetheless.
Country Roads, Take Me Home
Readers who appreciate earnest, salt-of-the-earth heroes and levelheaded ladies will love the sweet love stories in Her Country Gentleman.
4 out of 5 Stars
- Her Country Gentleman: Timeless Georgian Collection (Book 1), by Sian Ann Bessey, Sarah M. Eden, and Rebecca Connolly
- Mirror Press (March 8, 2022)
- Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (300) pages
- ISBN: 978-1952611216
- Genre: Georgian Romance, Anthology
We received a review copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Austenprose is an Amazon affiliate. Cover image courtesy of Mirror Press © 2022; text Katie Jackson © 2022, austenprose.com.
Hello Dear Readers,
Have you read any of the Timeless Romance Anthologies or novels by any of the authors in this anthology?
If you enjoy historical romance with witty dialogue, engaging plots, and endearing characters, Austenprose highly recommends them.
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Laurel Ann Nattress, editor