Saturday, February 11, 2012

Review: Lady Eleanor's Secret by Fenella Miller (4 stars, traditional)

Full Description: Amazon

Rating: 4 out of 5

Thoughts After Reading:
Lady Eleanor's Secret was an interesting and fairly well-written read. The story is essentially one of a marriage-of-convenience turning into something more amidst plenty of external action, although there is also an internal conflict. It was written very much in a traditional style, including being clean of any bedroom scenes. The tone was definitely not lighthearted, although it wasn't extremely dark either.

The heroine is a spinster, of sorts, who acts as a governess for her nieces and nephews. Her brother is a deranged and dangerous man, and she shields the children from harm as much as possible - resulting sometimes in taking beatings herself. The hero is a widower with three children. He married his first wife at a young age, and was devastated when she dies in childbirth. A woman who becomes his mistress helps him deal with his loss, although he finds himself unable to spend much time with children. At the beginning of the story, she basically demands that the hero find a wife to take care of his children so that he will rest more easily about them. The mistress was mostly why the book only gets four stars. For one thing, I'm not fond a mistress being used as the one that helps the hero get his footing, even partially, back in the world. More unsettling than that plot device, though, was that I didn't understand why the mistress insisted that the hero start a marriage-of-convenience or even why the hero went so readily along with it. She obviously didn't have much in the way of feelings for him beyond physical gratification, so why would she care so much about his children being looked after? Especially when finding a good governess to begin with would have probably worked almost as well. At any rate, the hero is already considering the heroine good mother material when the misunderstanding occurs. The hero, believing he behaved inappropriately toward the heroine, immediately proposes a marriage-of-convenience. The heroine is a bit confused about the hero's reasons, but jumps on the opportunity to get out of her current circumstances. What follows is a fairly nice love story as the two protagonists fall into a better life than they expected. There are some ups and downs in the relationship, especially when the heroine finds out the truth about the hero's misunderstanding and decides to keep it a secret, but the drama never gets out of hand. At the same time, there's a steady external conflict as the heroine's brother tries to do villainous things (attempted murders and the like). The resolutions to both conflicts were nothing extraordinary, but not particularly lacking either.

Lady Eleanor's Secret is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. There were a few motives that didn't seem to make complete sense, and other elements I just plain didn't like. However, if you want a solid traditional regency with a nice romance and a fast-moving plot, then look no farther.

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