Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
A Very Plain Young Man is Book Two in the Hapgoods of Bramleigh series by Christina Dudley (a Traditional Regency romance series in the style of Georgette Heyer). The series focuses on the Hapgoods, an almost impoverished gentry family living in Somerset. The family is headed by a blustery, unsophisticated squire who prefers to spend all his time with his beloved canines and an often indisposed and indolent mother. The four delightful daughters of the family are frequently left to their own devices and have very little society besides their immediate family.
Book One of this series, The Naturalist, was about Alice Hapgood (the second oldest) and how her desperate desire to study nature led her both into scandal as well as to the altar! In Book Two, we spend more time with Elfrida, the eldest and most beautiful sister in the family. While Elfrida’s beauty attracts the notice of all around her, she pays it no consequence, in fact she considers being called practical the more desired compliment. Elfrida is an adorable heroine who carries a lot of responsibilities on her shoulders – she is indeed practical, forthright, and composed, all things a young lady ought, but her one flaw is her nearsightedness. Poor Elfrida can’t see much detail in anything unless it is a few inches from her face. And perhaps Elfrida’s shortsighted tendencies extend to her views on men and marriage…
Because of her attractive and amiable qualities, Elfrida is pursued by two men in this novel, one suitor being the handsome, rakish brother of her sister’s new husband. Frederick Tierney, who spends a good deal on flashy apparel and immoderately enjoys the pleasures of town life, finds himself in want of a wife (or at least a fiancé) to help him avoid certain scandal. In addition to wearing fancy embroidered waistcoats, Mr. Frederick Tierney is a rake with a proclivity for married women and actresses, and his latest inamorata is getting a little too demanding, conniving, and hysterical for his tastes. Will Elfrida be a good decoy for him?
Elfrida’s other suitor is her cousin who recently became a widower. Hugh Hapgood, heir to Bramleigh (yes, another entailment!) and father of three children decides to descend upon the Hapgoods and search for a new wife and mother from amongst his fair cousins (but guess what, Elfrida is the only one of marriageable age!) Will she sacrifice herself in marriage for the sake of her family?Will Elfrida let her practical nature rule? Or, will she give her heart to a known rake?
This story was just marvelous! I loved our proper and dutiful heroine and how the rakish Frederick Tierney would tease and try to ruffle her! What a pair they made – she determined to ignore him and distrust his intentions, and he steadfastly falling deeper and deeper in love with her! Loved every minute of their tumultuous journey – and in Frederick’s case, admirable transformation! And I thoroughly enjoyed how Christina Dudley kept preventing this couple from coming to an “understanding” by throwing more obstacles and surprises their way! Ending the story in a very madcap and uproarious style – classic Georgette Heyer.
I simply cannot decide what I love most about this second installment to the Hapgoods of Bramleigh series – the brilliant characters with so much personality and depth, the playful tone and witty banter the author deftly commands, or the thoughtful and riveting plot that was far from predictable. I loved it all! A splendid and skillfully written traditional Regency romance! I can hardly wait for the next installment! I <3 the Hapgoods! #TakeMeBacktoBramleigh