by Patrice Kindl
Plot Summary:Seventeen-year-old Althea bears a heavy burden on her slender shoulders. She must support her widowed mother, young brother, and two stepsisters who plead poverty - and she must maintain Crawley Castle, a tumbledown folly designed and built by her great-grandfather. Althea, in short, must marry well. But there are few wealthy suitors - or suitors of any kind - in their small Yorkshire town. Then Lord Boring comes to stay with his aunt and uncle, and Althea immediately starts a clever, stealthy campaign to become Lady Boring. There's only one problem; his cousin and business manager, Mr. Fredericks, keeps getting in the way. And as it turns out, he has his own set of plans...
Review:This is such a fun, frothy, and charming read! The main character is sometimes too honest so her observations of the other characters are amusing and cuts to the truth - generally though, because there is humor in how she sometimes doesn't get things right. The story is a simple one - with misunderstandings and disagreeable relatives creating most of the drama. The fun is in seeing how Althea uses her wits to get out of the situations she finds herself in.
While I enjoyed reading this book thoroughly, I wouldn't say it is anything innovative. It's a lovely romance with familiar character archetypes for the Regency era - spiteful sisters, a loving mother, the different breeds of prospective suitors - a very agreeable, good looking gentleman, an older, slightly repellent man, and a nicer older man. And then there's Mr. Fredericks. He's a different sort of Regency hero - as he's bookish, interested in science and figuring out things, and doesn't have very good manners. His clashes with Althea are cute and endearing, even if he started off as a little too rude in the beginning. There's some wonderful commentary in this book on the place of a woman and what is expected of her versus what a man expects from a bride. There's also a great comparison between Althea and her beauty and her dear, plain friend Miss Vincy with the heart of gold. I think the commentary on the situations the characters are in is more interesting than some of the characters themselves, and that gives this story more depth.
The romance is a little different from romances of this period, but I didn't quite like the resolution. It was very sweet but a little too anemic for me - and not romantic enough. I suppose it fit with the characters and made sense but I felt a little let down by it. Overall though, this is really a charming story, and fun to reread for all the entertaining scenes and characterizations.