The Substitute Bridegroom
"Miss Goldsborough? I have come to see if you have need of any assistance," he said stiffly.
A wanton accident forever changes Elizabeth Goldsborough's life. At one moment the season's reigning beauty and engaged to its most eligible bachelor, at the next her beauty is destroyed and she's robbed of her future prospects as loving mother and wife. Her brother knows who's responsible and searches out Captain Darius St. John. An eye for an eye and a husband for a husband is his motto.
Dolan is one of my favorite authors and her books repay several readings. This one is no exception. I'm not usually that fond of stories about doubting Thomases but this hero has more reasons than most to feel suspicious of women, more than any one man should. It doesn't justify and the author doesn't make the mistake of excusing his sometimes boorish behavior but explains it, letting us see his remorse and change, and that's good enough for me. Warmly recommended. Read Janice review here
First published 1991 by Signet, large print edition 1992 by John Curley & Assoc.
Three Lords for Lady Anne
"Excuse me," she heard a deep voice say. For the first time in her life, she did what people had so often done to her - she looked him up and down. Tipping his hat at her, he finally moved away and as if in a trance, she continued her way in the opposite direction. Then, unable to refrain any longer, she looked over her shoulder. Yes, he was still watching her.
At fifteen, the shy Lady Gloriana 'Anne' Hemsworth was already taller than most men. Rescued from her situation as the poor yet excessively grateful charity object of vulgar relatives intending to trade on their one titled connection, Anne goes to live with her great-aunt. Her education in the hands of the eccentric Lady Sidonia that has no time for men, who in her opinion are useless sniveling cowards, is an excellent preparation for her future as a governess. When Anne meets the angelic twin horrors of Wylington Manor, not to mention their guardian, she needs all the wits and stratagems her unusual education can boost. Unfortunately, Lady Sidonia instructions had been lamentably short on the subject of love.
Written in a more old-fashioned manner, the setup is intricately done and makes for a definite sense of time and place. The hero and heroine, although well aware of the other's existence and character or so they believe, don't actually meet until well into the story. It's well crafted and quite moving in parts. I liked it.
First published 1991 by Signet
The Resolute Runaway
"As a friend of your brother's, I hope I may ask you a favor."
It was all Napoleon's fault. If it hadn't been for Bonaparte's determined pursuit of power and glory, her father would not have been killed at Trafalgar, leaving his family destitute. If it hadn't been for Napoleon's war with just about everyone, Joanna's brother would not have used their meager inheritance to purchase a commission in the army and go racketing all over Europe, leaving her to her uncle's less than tender mercies. And if it was not for the Corsican upstart then Joanna's best friend would not go to Brussels to be part of the mad gaiety in that city. What was a girl to do?
I liked Joanna but I can do without another book about Waterloo so find it hard to do this one justice. All I can say is that Dolan can't write badly, even about Waterloo.
First published 1992 by Signet
The Black Widow
"I want to extend my apologies to you ladies, and particularly to Miss Meribe Prestwich, for any discomfort my brother may have caused you by his actions. I have spoken to him and in the future he will not bother you in any way."
After her first two fiancées died and other suitors met with untimely ends, Meribe Prestwich acquired the reputation of a cursed woman - any man foolish enough to search out her company was certainly courting death. In fact, the younger men made it a test of their manhood to stand up with the unfortunate young woman. Demetrius Baineton, Lord Thorverton was outraged to be called upon to rescue his younger brother from her influence. Could these addlepated superstitious fools not see beyond such arrant nonsense to the lovely girl herself? Although he's sworn to remain a bachelor for life, Demetrius decides to befriend Meriba; determined to refute her unwarranted reputation by staying alive and well. She's really the loveliest girl but not at all the wife he would chose - if he wanted to marry.
Loosely linked to Three Lords for Lady Anne. I found the mystery of the curse not that much of a mystery as most of us had rather more than an inkling of the suspects rather soon in the book and certainly rather sooner than the hero and heroine. I guess there was some excuse for the heroine, all things considered, but the hero was really a little too much of a dunce in this to suit me. Still, a charming book for all that.
First published 1992 by Signet
The Unofficial Suitor
Richard Hawke only gradually became aware of a warm body cuddled up against him, and it took him a few more moments to become sufficiently awake to identify where he was. He had a vague memory of deep blue eyes and black hair and a forehead that seemed perpetually creased in a worried frown. He smiled to himself, pleased that she had finally relaxed. He doubted that he made a very soft pillow, but apparently she had no complaints. And he definitely had none. With that thought, he allowed the rocking stagecoach to lull him back to sleep.
Lady Cassiopeia Anderby might be the daughter of one Earl and the sister of another but for her there was not the life in luxury common for women of her breeding. Her father had been a rake and a wastrel and her brother worse. His latest scheme was his most despicable to date - Cassie was to be sold, preferably in marriage, to a man rich enough to tow the dissipated brother out of River Tick. The last man he would chose was the not quite acceptable Richard Hawke, whose past was as shady as his ancestry. But Richard, although his armor was less than shiny, was a true knight bent on rescuing the fair maiden - and ruthless enough to carry it through to a successful end.
I liked the fact that there is no cop-out with the ineligible suitor revealed to be a duke in disguise. Would this be possible in anything but a romance? I doubt it although with Lady Letitia on your side who can tell what heights a man can rise to.
First published 1992 by Signet
"Excuse me, sir, but I understand you are traveling west. I am stranded here with no means of getting a message to my family, and I would greatly appreciate if you could take me as far as Oakwood Manor. It is quite important to me that I get home for Christmas."
Having unexpectedly inherited the title, Gabriel Rainsford, Lord Sherington is instantly beset by rapacious relatives insisting it's his sacred duty to lavishly entertain them over the holidays. Tired of his obstinate servants' efforts to make him conform to tradition and his mistress' not so subtle hints he marries her, he sets off, alone, to visit his northernmost estate. On the way he encounters Miss Verity Jolliffe, plain spinster and drudge to her selfish family. She's the first woman not trying her feminine wiles on him and the more he learns about her the more certain he is that he's found exactly what he's looking for - the perfect wife. Now all that's needed is to convince Verity he's the perfect husband.
I really enjoyed this story, which I think is rather sweet. Verity is definitely Cinderella, with Gabriel as her unlikely Prince Charming. Unlike the usual stock characters, Verity and Gabriel have characters of their own. Both need to temper their experiences of humanity to a more rational view; Verity taking off her rose-tinted glasses and Gabriel to realize that not everyone is selfish to the core. I enjoyed seeing them grow and learn to trust each other. Read Janice review here
First published 1993 by Signet, large print edition 1994 by G K Hall & Co
The Counterfeit Gentleman
The girl's head lolled on his shoulder, but he was relieved to hear her taking great gulps of air through her mouth. He pressed one finger to her lips, and she nodded weakly.
Berthia Pepperell cursed the day her grandfather made her his sole heir. Not only was she beset by fortune hunters, now one of her odious cousins had hired assassins to kill her! It was an ingenious scheme to be sure but even the best laid plans are subject of the whims of fate. Fate had made Digory Rendel take out his boat for an early fishing trip and fate had let the fog roll in, thus obscuring him from the villains' view and help him to rescue a true maiden in distress. But there was no security for Berthia outside of marriage and how could the baseborn son of the detestable Earl of Blackstone, not to mention a former smuggler, be considered a suitable husband for the most proper Miss Pepperell?
Sequel to The Unofficial Suitor
First published 1994 by Signet, large print edition 1994 by G K Hall & Co
The Ghost of Castle Ravenswych
Appears in Full Moon Magic, published by Signet, 1992.
Printed in A Regency Summer, published by Signet, 1992
About the Author
Charlotte Louise Dolan, or Charlou as she's nicknamed, is a American author with a masters degree in German and has lived at such widely diverse locations as Taiwan, Austria, Canada and the former Soviet Union. She's at present living in Idaho, USA. Unfortunately, due to health issues, Dolan has retired from writing.
Drawing strongly on her Cornish background, Dolan populated her novels with characters sharing names and history with her ancestors. For instance, Digory Rendel, the hero of The Counterfeit Gentleman, got his name from Dolan's umpth grandfather Digory Baker and his ancestress Honor Rendel. Here's what Dolan says about her books:
"Incidentally, all my romance novels are now out-of-print, but you can still find them occasionally in used book stores. The following is the information you need if you want to try to get them on-line somewhere. They are NOT historical romances, which focus on passion; they are Regency romances, which are more like Jane Austen's novels -- squeaky clean, full of humor, side characters, subplots, and written in college English. They are definitely 'G' rating, with some 'PG' because of violence (which is NOT graphic)."
Copyright notice: Excerpts from the books are italized and copyrighted property of Charlotte Louise Dolan, the author. These are used in accordance with copyright law that allows for short excerpts to be published in book reviews. All other text on this page is copyrighted by the site owner and may not be reproduced except with the site owner's written consent.