Feb 102014

The NaturalistA Traditional Regency Romance with Heyer-esque Hijinks!

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 The Beresfordsbrave 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!

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Giveaway Time!!!

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.)

The Naturalist

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!
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  72 Responses to “The Naturalist – Christina Dudley + Giveaway!!!”


    Sounds like a wonderful new Regency series and I would love to read this first
    volume. Thank you for the goveaway!


    I’d heard of The Beresfords, but I haven’t read it so far. I’d been waiting until I re-read the original, which I did last year, before I embarked on anything Mansfield Park-inspired, so I’ve added this to my wishlist now. I’ve also added The Naturalist. I’m very excited to hear of something being described as being like a Georgette Heyer, I love her books 🙂


    Loved The Beresfords, as well as Christina’s other books. Would love the chance to win a copy of her latest book, as I’m anxious to read it. 🙂


    Oh! How exciting! This is very enticing! What a fun premise! I love new ideas and think this sounds like a very intriguing story! I am currently writing the second book in a series and find it somewhat challenging but so much fun! I just finished a book that I didn’t realize was the first in a series and got to the end and just about threw it across the room because the second in the series wasn’t to be published until Spring this year! I just wanted more! So I know exactly what you are talking about!


    Apart from JAFF I don’t think I have ever read a Regency Romance but this sounds intriguing

    meikleblog at gmail dot com


    I would love to read The Naturalist. Thanks for entering me.



    This sounds like a fun read! Thank you for the giveaway! My computer has been ill all weekend so must keep this short!
    Catherine Commons


    This novel sounds captivating and special. It interests me greatly. thanks for this wonderful giveaway.


    I really, really want to read this book! LOL I liked the Beresfords and I haven’t even read Mansfield Park yet (hides head in shame).Thanks for the chance to win it!


    Gender-swapping Regency hijinks? Right up my alley! Considering the timing, with Darwin and other scientists bringing the study of the natural world into popularity, I think it’s wonderful that she’s highlighted that in this novel. And sad that women were denied that profession because of their gender, considering what natural observers most women (especially of that period!) are. Thanks for putting this one on my radar!


    You had me when you said it was like Georgette Heyer. I adore her books and their style. A cross-dressing naturalist and a fun family just sounds so appealing. I didn’t know about this one. Thanks for sharing, Meredith and thanks for the giveaway opportunity.


    This Regency Romance would be unforgettable. Many thanks.


    Thank you for such an enlightening review and thank you for the giveaway. The idea of the Alice meeting someone and having to get out of the fact that “she” is not a “he” because of dress sounds like a good story line.


    Love Regency novels and Georgette Heyer! To have a new author and an adventerous heroine sounds delightful! To know that there are a total of 4 sisters with more to come is exciting too! I love sequels!


    YAY! Not sure which one I will read first!


    I also enjoyed that you thought of it as traditional regency and a bit heyeresque. I love heyers novels. Science certainly was popular since elizabeth Gaskell also included scientific observances in her novel ‘wives and daughters’. I loved that novel as well. I’d love to read “the naturalist’ please include me in your drawing.


    This sounds interesting! I love spunky heroines…


    You had me at ‘Heyer’ 🙂 I’m ready for fun and frolic. Thanks for the opportunity to win the book.


    ALWAYS in the market for more Regency/Austen/Heyer stories! This sounds like a great series to start!


    Oh wow, this book sounds great! I’m a HUGE fan of Georgette Heyer and I’m always looking for books like hers! This sounds a little Twelfth Night too


    Congratulations on the new book, Christina! I love Georgette Heyer and this book sounds like a lot of fun! Thanks for the giveaway!!


    Wow! Sounds like a great book and a great Giveaway!
    I love Heyer and books like hers. Also a huge fan of books written in the Regency Era. 🙂
    Thanks for the opertunity.


    This book sounds full of possibilities. Can’t wait to read it. I need a new series with characters fill of life. Thanks for the giveaway.


    This book sounds really interesting! I loved The Beresfords so I will definitely be adding this to my growing to-read pile 🙂


    Wonderful to hear that Christina has a new book! I read the Beresfords, and then had to read Mansfield Park. I’m slow, but I get there. Here’s hoping for 50 more Dudley books.


    Oh, yes please! Happy to have this chance – thank you, Christina!


    I’m not a fan of Mansfield Park, but I do love Heyer, so I am intrigued and would love to win!


    I’ve recently started reading Heyer’s books and I think she’s a great writer! I have always a lot of fun reading them 🙂 So when I read this novel has something that reminds of Georgette Heyer, I couldn’t lose this amazing opportunity! Thanks for the chance and I’ll definitely add “The Beresfords” to my list too 🙂


      That’s awesome that you have recently started reading Georgette Heyer novels, Maria! I’ve only read half a dozen, but I love them! Can’t wait to read more! 🙂


    So glad you loved it Meredith! It was such a pleasure to meet Christina last summer. I really enjoyed the Bereford’s and look forward to reading this too.


      It was such a pleasure to meet you both last summer! I’m glad you were both able to finally meet each other! I hope you enjoy The Naturalist as much as I did, Laurel Ann!


    Can always use another recency romance.


    Ooh, I’m adding both to my To Read list! I’ve only read P&P Austenesque except for a few mash ups, it’s time I venture out a little.


      Yes! It will be a refreshing change! 🙂 I love P&P, but I also love Jane Austen’s other novels and characters, and it is always a treat to go and revisit them! 🙂


    Congratulations on your new book! Look forward to reading The Naturalist and need to look up the Beresfords (which makes me think of Tommy and Tuppence by Agatha Christie!) as I’ve never been a huge Mansfield Park fan. But willing to try it given the great reviews on your writing!


    Very nice review


    I have never heard of this book before until you reviewed it, Meredith. Sometimes I prefer a clean Regency romance so this novel will definitely go to my wish list. Thanks for the giveaway.


    This is completly new to me too, but, oh, this sounds like a wonderful read! Perfect!


    I love historical novels and you review has definitely made me want to read it. Women passing as man, then falling in love with man(most likely) always make for an interesting read. Look forward to reading The Naturalist.

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