Lady Ann’s Excellent Adventure: A Regency Short Story, by Candice Hern – A Review

Have you ever read a short story and wished it was a full-length novel? That is how I felt after completing Lady Ann’s Excellent Adventure. Short and sweet at 43 pages, Candice Hern has introduced characters that I instantly loved and wanted to know more about. What grabbed me so immediately you ask? The humor and effervescent theme.

In this brief format, an author must use every word and sentence to advance the narrative quickly to its conclusion. Hern wastes no time by introducing the two main characters in an outrageous and humorous way: our hero, the Earl of Evesham, is test-driving his new curricle down Park Lane in London and spies a young woman perched in a tree attempting to make her way over a fence. Caught by her skirts on a branch, she is prevented from progressing and literally up a tree! The unusual sight of a finely dressed woman in Continue reading “Lady Ann’s Excellent Adventure: A Regency Short Story, by Candice Hern – A Review”

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

Desperate Measures: A Regency Short Story, by Candice Hern – A Review

The Regency Romance Reading Challenge (2013)This is my sixth selection in the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013, our celebration of 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. Make haste! 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:

Unrequited love can force a girl into desperate measures—a scheme that Lydia Bettridge’s brother Daniel has concocted—and she is uncertain will work. Before the most important ball of the Season, he will procure his friend Philip Hartwell to sweep her off her feet in front of the object of her affection making him wild with jealousy. But when Philip is detained from the ball and unknowingly asks the object of her affection Geoffrey Danforth to be the swain who sweeps, Lydia is thrown for a loop. NO—he was to be the jealous lover, not the one to make her lover jealous! Thankfully Geoffrey does not know who the object of the game is and Lydia is not going to tell him! But now everything is topsy-turvy. How was she going to make him think of her as a beautiful, desirable young woman and not the little sister of his best friend? It does not help that he is so eager to play the part, especially since he has never singled out any woman in his life and will draw the attention of Society by playing the “mooncalf” with her. He was determined to make everyone in the room believe that he was madly in love with her, and he did, even Lydia! It was totally glorious—except that it was not real. Pressed to reveal whom Geoffrey is to make jealous, Lydia picks the first man she sees, the infamous rake Lord Tennison. Shocked, he tries to warn her off, but Lydia claims she needs excitement in her life. Always the obliging gentleman, Geoffrey promises to play the part to the nines and have Tennison falling at her feet before the night’s end. Continue reading “Desperate Measures: A Regency Short Story, by Candice Hern – A Review”

The Best Intentions: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern – A 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.” (50)

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 Stars

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

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

A Garden Folly: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern – A Review

In landscape design, a garden folly is a structure whose only objective is to deceive. They have no purpose other than as ornament—to delight the eye and draw one to their door to evoke a romantic scene or time. How apt that author Candice Hern chose to name her Regency romance A Garden Folly, since her main characters are follies themselves.

Set at the Kent grand country estate of the Duke of Carlisle, two impoverished sisters impersonate aristocrats to entrap rich husbands, while the wealthy and titled owner of the dukedom, and the continuing custodian and creator of its grand landscape, hides behind the mantle of the head gardener to avert interaction with Society. Both hero and heroine have serious trust issues. How they will overcome their personal challenges is a serpentine path that teasingly twists, turns, and surprises the reader until the last page.

Catherine and Susannah Forsythe are down on their luck. Living in genteel poverty on the wrong side of London with Aunt Hetty was not what they had expected at this time in their lives. Their father, Sir Benjamin Continue reading “A Garden Folly: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern – A Review”

An Affair of Honor: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern – A Review

An English gentleman lived by a code of honor, but does that also apply to rakes? Even if he is a gentleman by birth do his actions make the man? An Affair of Honor plays on that premise in an amusing way.

After being thrown from his curricle and hitting his head, Colin Herriot, Viscount Sedgewick thinks he sees an angel hovering over him, so he must be dead. Better angels than devils; though his capricious life and rakish ways should equal the later. The figure dons coppery curls and creamy skin so he must be in heaven.

Cradled gently in her arms, Meg Ashburton recognizes the injured traveler immediately as Lord Sedgewick whom she met six years prior during her Continue reading “An Affair of Honor: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern – A Review”

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. Continue reading “A Change of Heart: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern – A Review”

A Proper Companion: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern – A Review

The Regency Romance Reading Challenge (2013)Today marks the official opening of 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:

We know that we are in for a fun frolic when an author boldly begins the first chapter of a novel with a heroine climbing out a bedroom window to meet her lover during a runaway marriage. No sooner have we drawn another breath when we discover that Lady Gwendolyn Pentwick is not the heroine of A Proper Companion at all, but her mother, an earl’s daughter who has found herself in a family way and been pressured into a patched up marriage to a titled lord who lacks fortune and appeal. Phew. If this lively beginning is the forerunner of what is to follow, hold on to your bonnets and settle into a page-turner.

Flash forward twenty-seven years to 1812 and the Bath townhouse of the Dowager Countess Bradleigh, who while enjoying afternoon tea with her companion Emily Townsend, reads in the newspaper of the betrothal of Augusta Windhurst to her eldest grandson, Robert Cameron, ninth Earl of Bradleigh. Shocked and appalled by his choice of bride she is determined to intercede in this mésalliance. Moments later Robert surprises his grandmother by an unexpected visit to reveal his news only to find his grandmother in an uproar. Calmly he explains his logical reasons for choosing a wife after so many year of bachelorhood. He is feeling his age and wants an heir and Miss Windhurst is everything she desires in a wife: “elegant, cool, supremely aloof, does not giggle, chatter, whimper, swoon or cling.” She finds his attitude cold, calculating and unromantic asking him where the love is in the arrangement?

Lady Bradleigh actually thinks her companion Miss Townsend, an impoverished granddaughter of an earl, is an excellent choice for her grandson and against her former dictum decides to be the matchmaker for them. Standing in her way is Robert’s fiancée and her social climbing family who are thrilled for their daughter to marry an earl. Because no gentleman can break off an engagement, but a lady can, she must find a way for his betrothed to beg off—and convince Emily, a determined spinster, and her grandson, the consummate rogue, that they are a match made in heaven. Continue reading “A Proper Companion: A Regency Romance, by Candice Hern – A Review”

Announcing the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013: Featuring Candice Hern

From the desk of Laurel Ann Nattress: 

Yes, gentle readers it’s time for a new reading challenge—and for 2013 we are stretching our wings and embracing a new author.

We are very pleased to announce the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013 featuring the very talented author Candice Hern. If you are unfamiliar with Candice, I am excited to introduce her to you. Continue reading “Announcing the Regency Romance Reading Challenge 2013: Featuring Candice Hern”

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