Kate Huntington has written another pleasant Regency with a hero with an
unusual background. Christopher Warrender has spent eleven years in a
series of French prisons. His grandfather had sent eighteen your old
Christopher off to the continent in 1803 to gain some polish. Instead,
when war between Britain and France resumed, he found himself the
“guest” of Napoleon’s government. His recalcitrance had resulted in his
incarceration in numerous prisons. Now, with Napoleon on his way to
Elba, Christopher is on his way home - to his grandfather and to the
young lady who was destined to be his wife since childhood.
Cassandra Davies is the ward of Viscount Adderley. Like her guardian,
she had believed that his grandson was dead until word of Christopher’s
survival arrived. While Cassandra is not unhappy that her erstwhile
playmate has survived, she is nonetheless unhappy that her plans have
been upset. Now twenty-two and unwed, she had almost convinced the
viscount to allow her to go to London. She knows that her guardian will
once again try to force her to wed his grandson. So when she encounters
Christopher, she informs him in no uncertain terms that she has no
intention of marrying him.
After eleven years in prison, Christopher has no intention of being
promptly caught in the parson’s mousetrap. So he hies himself off to
London to enjoy himself as is befitting the heir to a fortune and title.
Viscount Adderley, determined that Cassandra’s fortune and person will
remain in the family, follows his grandson with his ward in tow.
Cassandra will finally have the chance to attain some “town bronze.”
By the time they arrive in London, Christopher has already made the
acquaintance of Mrs. Benningham, a dashing widow. He has found rooms
and a tailor and is enjoying his freedom. Unable to force the issue,
the viscount has no choice but to allow Cassandra to enter society. Her
beauty and her fortune make her an instant success and she soon has an
unexceptional suitor in the person of Lord Whitby, heir to an earldom.
The outcome is perhaps predictable, but getting there is fun. The
pudgy, unprepossessing young man whom Cassandra recalls has become a
lean and handsome man with an aura of determination and strength that
seems lacking in the town dandies. Cassandra can no more understand why
she feels jealous of the beauteous Mrs. Benningham any more than
Christopher can understand why he has taken Lord Whitby into such dislike.
Both Christopher and Cassandra are likable characters. If there is any
weakness in the characterization, it is in the author’s failure to make
the hero as interesting as he could have been. Huntington does very
little with the probable effect that eleven years in prison must have
had on Christopher. He appears to adjust all too easily to his freedom,
at least once the story gets underway.
Cassandra comes across as a bit spoiled and superficial, at least until
the end of the story when she finds herself ensnared in the toils of the
determined Lord Whitby. At this point, when she should have shown some
strength, she becomes too passive. I would have liked her more had she
been a bit more active.
All in all, Town Bronze is a most acceptable Regency romance. I
have always enjoyed Huntington’s books and if this one is not among her
best, it still provides a couple of hours of entertainment.