Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
Ever since reading Christina Dudley’s beautiful modern adaptation of Mansfield Park, The Beresfords, I have been eager to read more from such a skilled and creative author! (It isn’t everyone who is brave enough to take on Mansfield Park!) Even though her latest release, The Naturalist isn’t my typical Austenesque fare, I was enticed to read it after hearing it described as a clean Regency romance similar in style to Georgette Heyer (I love me some hilarious hijinks!)
Our heroine in this tale is Alice Hapgood, the second daughter (out of four) of an almost-impoverished country squire. Alice reminds me a little of Elizabeth Bennet with her quick mind, love of the outdoors, and sometimes blatant disregard for lady-like behavior. She is passionate about science and sneaks out most mornings (in young men’s attire *gasp!*) to conduct her research and observations. An activity she is able to keep secret thanks to the help of a few trusted and caring servants!
While out one morning (in a pair of breeches, loose shirt, and a hat that contains all of her hair) Alice accidentally encounters Joseph Tierney – a naturalist commissioned to make a survey on the natural life in the county of Somerset and tells him her name is, “Arthur.” Deciding to continue the charade, Alice (as Arthur) accepts a position as Joesph’s assistant. Leading him around the area, collecting samples, observing the flora and fauna – Alice gets to experience the life she’s always dreamed of and the profession she’s denied because of her gender.
Respect and friendship start to grow between these two natural observers, and for Alice, something akin to affection and attraction begins to stir in her heart… But what happens when Joseph finds out who “Arthur” really is? What happens when Alice tells the truth about her deception and disguise???
I adore Christina Dudley’s writing – her characters were lovable and quirky, the dialogue and situations felt authentic to the time period, and there was an abundance of entertaining misunderstandings, backfired schemes, and hilarious mishaps! I loved witnessing these two nature lovers become embroiled in confusion, scandal, and romance. With the cross-dressing, colorful characters, and comedic capers, I felt this novel definitely channeled Georgette Heyer! What a lark!
My one complaint is that I wanted more! Christina Dudley created such intriguing and dynamic characters that I found myself wanting more time with ALL of them come the end of the novel! Alice’s brusque and blustery father, her three sisters who each had distinct personalities, the snooty Marltons, oh – and Alice’s spendthrift Uncle Alwyn, who has a reputation for getting into lots of scrapes! (definitely want to see more of him!) Sorry to repine, Ms. Dudley, but it’s your own fault for creating such engaging characters! 😉
Actually, it looks like there may be more in store for these delightful creations, The Naturalist appears to be the first in a series of traditional Regency romances titled The Hapgoods of Bramleigh. So it looks like we will be seeing more of the Hapgood family in the future! Woot woot!
Christina Dudley has kindly offered to give away one copy of her new release, The Naturalist, for me to give away to ONE lucky winner! (Choice of paperback, kindle, or nook for residents in the US. Choice of kindle or nook for all other countries.)
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment, question, or some love for Christina!
- This giveaway is open worldwide (with some shipping restrictions). Thank you, Christina!
- This giveaway ends February 17th!