Thursday, July 2, 2009
LORD BRAYBROOK'S PENNILESS BRIDE by Elizabeth Rolls
My dear sweet Mom gave me three romance novels for my birthday. The two I asked for were… well… okay. The third one, Lord Braybrook's Penniless Bride, was a surprise. It was also absolutely wonderful, proof yet again that my Mom knows me better than I know myself.
Julian, Lord Braybrook is not exactly a footloose and fancy-free bachelor. He spends his days dealing with his adventure loving four half-siblings and chair bound stepmother. The latest situation is convincing his seventeen year old half-sister Alicia that she does NOT want to marry dashing Harry Daventry. The young man is skating along on a very low income and his spendthrift half-sister would, as Julian states to her, 'run the fellow aground inside of a month.' Teenage girls being teenage girls (I remember how that was), Alicia thinks living in genteel poverty romantic.
Julian, upon investigating Daventry, hears that he has a mistress set up in a townhouse. He goes to have a talk with this woman and discovers that the Miss Daventry in question is, in fact, Harry's sister. She is about to be evicted from her home. Julian seizes this opportunity to hire Christiana as a companion to his stepmother and show Alicia first hand what genteel poverty is like. Nothing like a healthy dose of reality to pop those romantic notions.
'Course his plan would work better if he could keep his hands off the witty and beautiful Christiana Daventry.
I've read quite a few novels by Elizabeth Rolls and enjoyed them all. Lord Braybrook's Penniless Bride, however, is my favorite. Julian is a good man grappling with some serious prejudices, prejudices around illegitimacy that were the cultural norms at the time. Christiana, having a huge chip on her shoulder, is extra sensitive to his prejudices.
The minor characters are richly drawn. When on page two, six year old half-brother Davy declares that he won't marry Alicia because he was going to marry his Mamma instead, I killed myself laughing. Especially when Julian's response was a very dry "Excellent notion, old chap. Only not unless you want to land in Newgate!" This is the witty banter I adore in Regency romances.
But Lord Braybrook's Penniless Bride is not all laughs. This is certainly a three hanky read (the end with Nan's mom, wowsers, bawling my eyes out). There are no magical happy endings for everyone. The reconciliation that I expected (and dreaded because it would have been SO staged) didn't happen and I LOVED that. Elizabeth Rolls creates a wonderful world with just the right mix of reality and fantasy.
You can read more about Lord Braybrook's Penniless Bride and other novels by Elizabeth Rolls at http://www.elizabethrolls.com/