Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
Artemisia Grantley, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, adored her idyllic and quite life in the country; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world without experiencing the thrills of a London Season. Polite society and the haut ton don’t appeal to Artemisia, she much rather spend her days shooting and riding horses around her uncle’s estate. But her Uncle Timmy, the Duke of Wentworth, has decided that is time for Artemisia to receive “a little town polish,” experience public life, and finally come out into society. Despite her aversion to the plan, Artemisia must trade in her borrowed breeches, coarse lawn shirt, and slouchy hat and don modish walking dresses and fashionable ball gowns…
Guiding and chaperoning Artemisia through her first season is the beautiful, wealthy, and widowed Lady Lubriot, half-sister to the Duke of Wentworth’s close friend the Marquess of Chysm, a single, eligible, and wealthy man who most decidedly is not in want of a wife! While Lady Lubriot’s youthfulness, lively spirits, and kindness easily win the affection and cooperation of her young charge, Lord Chysm, with his proclivity for giving offense and pointing out Artemisia’s flaws, raises her ire and continuously tries her temper. With the help of these two and her uncle, Artemisia attempts to make her societal debut without any mishaps, but it seems that scandal, intrigue, and her mother’s dubious past continuously threaten her chances of success.
What an utterly delightful novel! I was quite enamored with our hero and heroine and their tumultuous relationship! Due to terrible first impressions, their relationship began with an instant and intense dislike. Most of their conversations contained little civility and much contention, as they both repeatedly challenged each other with verbal sparing matches and set downs. In addition, they were both so skilled at repressing and fighting their feelings for each other, that they easily misunderstood and misinterpreted every look, word, and action! (Loved seeing these two fall in love against their will, against their reason, and even against their character!)
The hero and heroine weren’t the only characters I adored in this novel, each character (main and secondary) was colorful, comical, and well-drawn. Furthermore, I took great pleasure in discovering how some characters shared similar traits and familiar personalities with various Jane Austen characters. Aunt Ophelia, with her particular attention to food and decided opinions seemed like a cross between Mr. Woodhouse and Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Lively, boyish, principled, yet naïve Artemisia felt like a delightful blend of Elizabeth Bennet and Catherine Morland. And Lord Chysm, with his disinterest in marriage, aloof appearance, yet hidden honorable nature and heroic actions, definitely reminded me of several classic Georgette Heyer heroes. I don’t know if these similarities were intentional or accidental, but I greatly admired these cleverly crafted characters!
My one small quibble for this novel was that the French conspiracy and spy/informant business was a little hard to follow. Since the reader doesn’t learn everything all at once and Lord Chysm’s work is slowly revealed, I felt a little confused at times. (But this might be because my knowledge and understanding of Napoleonic France isn’t much to speak of!)
What a smashing debut novel for D.G. Rampton!!! On the cover it very aptly states: “A Regency novel in the tradition of Jane Austen.” The inspiration from and homage to Jane Austen and traditional Regency romances is abundantly clear on every page. I highly recommend this novel and author to readers who love Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, and traditional Regency romances!