Belle of the Ball

Lady Delafont's Dilemma

Lady May's Folly

Lord St. Claire's Angel

A Matchmaker’s Christmas

Miss Truelove Beckons

A Rake's Redemption

 
Rachel’s Change of Heart
by Donna Simpson
(Zebra Regency, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-8217-7395-X
**
Miss Rachel Neville is awash in tears at the sight of her younger sister, Pamela, marrying the Earl of Strongwycke. It’s obviously a love match, and Rachel herself is engaged to Lord Yarnell, and eminently suitable marquess. So why does Rachel feel so sad? Is it because, deep down, Rachel knows her own marriage will be no love match?

Sir Colin Varens, a neighbor with whom she’d grown up, has loved Rachel for years. Rachel never returned his feelings, and thinks of Colin as just a friend. Colin is attending the wedding with his older sister, Andromeda, and he assures Rachel that he’ll no longer try to pursue her. Instead, he and Andromeda will enjoy the sights of London while caring for Strongwycke’s niece until the earl and his new wife return from their wedding trip.

Rachel finds herself thinking about Colin more and more as she tries to convince herself that Lord Yarnell is the perfect husband. He’s rich and titled and she’ll be a good wife to him. The fact that he’s a pompous windbag with a mother who is a cardboard termagant barely registers with Rachel, even while being shoved down the reader’s throat. Yarnell informs Rachel that his mother will be planning the wedding, Rachel’s grandmother will not be welcome because she’s too coarse, they will take their wedding trip to the family cottage on the Isle Of Wight, not to Italy as Rachel wants, and his mother will be accompanying them on the wedding trip because it’s her cottage too, after all. Rachel wrings her hands and wonders if she and Yarnell will be happy together. (Hint: No, kid. Grow up.) Colin, meanwhile, pursues the sport of boxing, trying to get into matches with known pugilists, despite the fact that he’s forever coming home with a black eye and a mashed face.

There is a secondary romance between Andromeda and a wealthy businessman that is much more interesting than the interaction between Rachel and Colin. I’d have far preferred to read more about intelligent, independent Andromeda than self-absorbed, waffling Rachel. Frankly, I didn’t care about her problems, since she was so willing to paper over the truth in the interest of landing the perfect husband, and it took her far too long to come to her senses. Colin came across as pretty immature himself. You’d think after being pounded to a pulp, Colin would get the idea that he’s not a very good boxer and just give it up.

Some of the writing felt anachronistic, as well. Rachel refers to Andromeda as Colin’s “weird sister”. Pamela calls Rachel “Rach”, as in “Rach, look after Belinda” and “Rach, don’t marry without love”. More like an episode of Friends than a Regency romance.

I’ve enjoyed other works by Donna Simpson, and this just isn’t her best. If only she’d relegated Rachel and Colin to the background and allowed Andromeda to step front and center. I enjoy watching characters grow; watching them grow up isn’t nearly as captivating. Think twice.

--Cathy Sova


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