Miss Melpomene Rand's only refuge from a life of monotony and cruelty is the extensive library left to her by her grandfather. The fantastic notions and romantic heroes contained in those books are the only thing that distracts her from the abuse of her adopted family.
But then a mysterious stranger, the Earl of Austell, finds they have a mutual malady of boredom, and he endeavors to rescue them both.
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It’s difficult to find a good Regency novel in the Heyer or Austen traditions. It’s unnecessary to equal them to write a good Regency but I find that too many novelists are imitating the madcap schemes and exaggerating them; creating characters so quirky as to be bizarre; and worst of all inserting modern conversations about birth control and sexual liberation that feel jarring and intellectually lazy. Fortunately none of that applies to this book! The romantic pairings are good, the characters three dimensional, the adventures a light romp. The second half feels slightly convoluted to me, but nothing over which I grew impatient. Other reviews have stated that the age difference felt a little odd and I’m not certain the author made the right call in placing them (according to the estimation of a character in the novel) around twenty years apart. The characters don’t act like they’re twenty years apart. Left to my own devices I would’ve estimated maybe 15 years age difference, which somehow isn’t that bad for the era or this type of Regency novel. So I suggest listening to this book with the assumption that Lady Masterson’s guess at the age difference is just a little off. I would say that this novel is a lot closer to Heyer’s style than Austen’s (let’s get real, no one can imitate Austen), and while she doesn’t equal Heyer’s wonderful syntax or plotting, there is a sweetness that the author brings to the table in the character of Melpomene Rand that is entirely her own offering. Definitely worth the read/listen!