A Regency romp! This is the only way to describe Cindy Holbrook's
latest book. Light, amusing, entertaining, etc., etc, and so forth.
That the author manages to provide three sweet romances for the price of
one is another benefit.
Alexander Rothmeir, Marquis of Wyndham has reached the advanced age of
thirty unwed. But the women in his family are pressing him to do his
duty by fulfilling the commitment his father made years ago and marry
the eldest daughter of the Earl of Stanton. Since the young lady in
question has now reached the age of nineteen and has apparently been
expecting his offer, Alexander agrees to take the plunge.
The Earl of Stanton is absolutely delighted that Wyndham has finally
come up to scratch, and not a moment too soon. The family is facing
financial disaster, but an alliance with one of the richest members of
the ton will solve all their problems. His wife Louisa can continue to
shop till she drops; his son Michael can pursue his career as a young
man about town; and the earl himself can continue to drink, gamble and
be generally irresponsible. The only person who is not happy with the
prospect of this marriage is his daughter Josephine, the only real adult
in the rackety family.
When Alexander, on bended knee, makes his offer, Josephine, to his
amazement, turns him down. Emily believes that even the Wyndham fortune
cannot support the Stantons and, if they must finally abandon the idea
that this marriage is going to save their groats, then the family will
finally be forced to face reality. Alexander is understandably relieved
to be free of a marriage he was not particularly enthusiastic about, but
he is intrigued by the intelligent and self-possessed young lady who has
declined the honor of becoming his wife.
Having rejected her suitor, Josie determines that she must take steps to
bring the family about. These steps, often outrageous but always
amusing, bring her again and again into Alex's orbit and he finds
himself trying to protect her from the consequences of her acts. And
the more Alex sees of Josie, the more he finds himself attracted to
Alex is a fairly typical Regency hero, a man who has enjoyed a life of
pleasure and who is surprised to discover that he is falling in love.
Josie is a more problematic character. On the one hand, she is
intelligent and capable; on the other, she is remarkably innocent about
the world and life. Holbrook manages to make this paradox plausible, no
In addition to the primary love story, Holbrook provides romances for
Josie's twin brother Michael and her sweet younger sister Mary. She
creates a fun cast of amusing secondary characters that enliven the
story. And she sure does know how to write funny scenes. The debacle
of a dinner party had me laughing out loud.
I do have my usual quibble with Holbrook's accuracy regarding the
details of Regency social niceties. She really ought to get a handle on
the use of titles. And I have to hope that it was an officious copy
editor who changed Whig to Wig. But these error seemed somewhat less
egregious than in the last book I reviewed.
So, if you want a light and funny Regency romance, The Reluctant
Bride should be just your cup of tea.