Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
Having read and adored Melanie Kerr’s first release – Follies Past – a Pride and Prejudice prequel, I was super excited to learn that she was soon releasing a new book. This time an original Regency Romance about an unfortunate orphan coming of age. Since what I loved most about Ms. Kerr’s first book was her original character, Clare Langford (Miss Darcy’s companion), and her storyline, I longed to see what Ms. Kerr would do with an entirely new cast of characters all of her own creation.
The heroine of our story is Mary Green, who like Fanny Price and Jane Eyre, is the unfortunate poor relation taken in by relatives. While she is fed, given a room (ahem! the nursery), and clothed (in her cousins’ cast-offs), Mary is never treated with kindness or affection. Her unmarried aunt and the two daughters of her benefactor are always sure to mark a distinction in her relationship to the family. She is the obscure orphan with no prospects who is often treated with neglect and mockery. With little happiness in her life, Mary often dreams of becoming the wife of a humble curate or being hired as a governess for a middle-class family. At nearly the age of twenty-one, she hopes to soon escape these mean-spirited, squabbling sisters, her malicious aunt, and her absent benefactor (sounds similar to Cinderella, doesn’t it?)
Unlike Cinderella, Mary doesn’t need a prince to save her, she is saved unexpectedly by some good fortune that comes her way. With her life changed, Mary is determined to seek happiness and enjoy her freedom. Like Catherine Morland, she is inexperienced and new to society, but quick to be amiable and make friends (and attract suitors!) But after some disappointments, Mary soon realizes that a life of shopping, fashions, and parties is not for her. And with the mystery of her past still unresolved, she decides to focus her energies on learning the truth about herself and improving her character.
Oh brava, Melanie Kerr! Mary Green is such an admirable and likable character! I loved her instantly for her humble and forgiving nature, generous heart, and genuine personality. Her adventures were immensely fun to follow and I loved discovering more about her past. But what I really admired was her strength, bravery, and independent thinking. Like Elizabeth Bennet, she isn’t afraid to speak her mind and do what she ought. I especially enjoyed her interactions with her companion, Mrs. Burrows, and all three of the Ingles brothers.
It was a pleasant surprise to find this story include some nods to stories and situations familiar to me. As mentioned above, there were instances that made me think of Fanny Price, Catherine Morland, and Elizabeth Bennet. In addition, Mary does have some romantic misadventures that sometimes brought to mind scenes with John Thorpe, Mr. Knightley, and Mr. Darcy! I loved these gentle echoes to such beloved characters and scenes and greatly applaud Melanie Kerr’s fantastic taste! (I wouldn’t be surprised if she listed Jane Eyre, Cinderella, and all of Jane Austen’s novels as sources of inspiration for this novel.)
I found Mary Green to be utterly charming and delightfully unexpected! An original Regency Romance with an endearing heroine, lovable friends, loathsome adversaries, mishaps, adventures, self-discoveries, and a spectacularly unexpected twist at the end is definitely the kind of story that captivates me and I’m thrilled to give Ms. Kerr’s new release some well-deserved praise and recognition. If you are a fan of Regency romances, clean romances, and Jane Austen I highly recommend you add Mary Green to your TBR list pronto!