"How do you do?" She smiled pleasantly into his startled face. "I presume you are - er - 'my brother, the earl?'"
Margaret Tolliver was at twenty-nine a happy spinster, that is, unless she had to deal with her peevish brother Charles. Not even Aunt Henrietta's pet rooster pecked more on Margaret than her stuffy brother. The Earl of Manfield was yet another stuffy brother, or so his younger brother Gillian thought. What was so bad about hiding a pig in his teachers bedroom even if it wore his nightshirt? No, thought Gillian, his brother was suffering from unrequited love to Vanessa, his former mistress and he, Gillian, would restore her to him, thereby winning his undying gratitude. With the help of his younger brother Peter and his trusty servant Jem, Gillian set out to kidnap the fair Vanessa. Was it Gillian's fault that all carriages looked the same?
I've read this book numerous times and it remains a firm favorite, filled with humor and wit. The large cast of characters is original and eccentric, to say the least, with the heroine a center of calm in the storm. I liked it enormously!
First published 1987 by Warner Books
The Merry Chase
"Damnation," Matty swore, reaching for the offending foot which lay awkwardly in a swirl of petticoat and root. Her frustration increased as she heard a chuckle nearby. Looking up quickly, she saw a tall man standing on the other side of the brook, regarding her with cool eyes and a glinting smile.
The three ladies at Morningdale Manor may have their differeneces but were as one in deploring their mushroom relatives who were ready, no eager, to oust the ladies and take over. The only sure way to stop them, as Aunt Hester unfailingly told Drusilla, was for her unnatural niece to marry somebody, anybody! What was not needed was for Dru to invite her even more unnatural cousin Mathilde, who, at thirty was surely a confirmed spinster. But Dru thought she deserved some support through the ball her mother and aunt were throwing. It didn't help that Morningdale had a new neighbor, the most unpleasant Cranston Pettigrew, who rescued Matty from her accident and also had to be invited. How anyone as boorish could have a friend as nice as the Duke of Ratchford Dru couldn't fathom.
I enjoyed this book more for the large, well drawn cast of characters and their interations than the rather secondary romances of Dru and Matty. If you want deep feelings and pathos rather than slapstick jokes and humor, this isn't the book for you. Not as witty as Kidnap Confusion, it's still a pleasant way to wile away an evening.
First published 1988 by Warner Books
As she and Bess shot from the trees into a clearing Julianna found her horse nose to nose with another wellbred beast that took instant exception to her abrupt entrance. He was doing his best to unseat the man whose loud "What the devil -" had apprised Julianna of his presence as she strove to control Bess.
At twenty-three Julianna was still unmarried, by choice. Rich and attractive, she had received her share of proposals although nobody was more persistent than her cousin Jonathan who had proposed twelve times. Julianna truly loved Jonathan but as a brother and was seriously concerned about his gambling debts yet it was no basis for marriage. And then what would her Great-Aunt Elizabeth do but push an ingenue goddaughter on Julianna that she was sponsoring. It didn't help that Miss Marley was as innocent as she was mysterious and in dire need of Julianna's worldly wisdom. Particularly when it came to the rakish Earl of Marleton. Julianna could not trust the man and was more than a little suspicious about his motives.
This is one of Judith Nelson's true love stories with the hero and heroine taking center stage, ably backed up by an interesting cast of characters. A humorous, witty book without slapstick comedy. I like it very much.
First published 1989 by Warner Books
Patience Is a Virtue
"Oh well done!"
That Anthony became the Sixth Marquess of Hamperston was no surprise but that he had inherited two female wards shocked him. He was no more pleased when his younger brother Robert, who had met them, described Patience as one who wasn't and her sister Constance who wasn't either, then added that their aunt Felicity, who lived with them, was no such thing. As to Patience Witherton, who had run Withy for years, taking over the management from her alcoholic father long before his passing, the news that she now has a Guardian came as a most unpleasant discovery. The haughty, not to say high-handed letter he sent her announcing his visit didn't help one bit. Patience knew what to think of men and she shall have none of him, no matter what he said.
I like this story a lot. Not only are Patience and Anthony quite appealing characters, the secondary love interest of Constance and her many suitors add a nice counterbalance. Also, it is pleasant to read about a developing relationship that is left to develop on its own without a lot of danger and villains. In fact, there's no villain in this book at all yet it's not in any way boring. I recommend this one.
First published 1989 by Diamond Books
"I don't know what it is, gentlemen, I assure you," Edward Farthington blustered for the third time as his knock went unanswered. "I wrote my niece that we were coming and why we have to endure this delay..." His mutterings ended as at last the door swung open and a child's doubtful eyes looked from one to the other. "Step aside now and let us in. Where's Horton?"
The Farthington sisters loved The Hall and now their uncle and guardian, who had never paid them a scrap of notice, had written that he would be visiting the estate with two friends in view of selling it! Elizabeth was distraught but Katherine vowed to do something about it. They would show off the Hall, not as it truly was but in all the delerinct glory as they could muster. Hence the removed slats so the roof leaked, mad chimneys smoke, and the stables were uninhabitable. Katherine even conjured up a ghost which she promised only to let loose in the direst of circumstances. But how their horrid uncle could claim friendship with these two society lions none could understand.
Truly a romp as the sisters and their servants do all they can to keep their home in the family. As always with Judith Nelson's writing, the book is fast paced with lots of dialog and interesting characters. The romance do take second place after the amusing antics but that had to be expected since saving the Hall is the watchword of the day. I enjoyed it.
First published 1990 by Diamond Books
"Let me tell you, Viscount Chilesworth, that I would not marry you if you were the last man in this country!"
After yet one more escapade the Earl of Forkham gives his daughter Fredrica an ultimatum: Marry her childhood friend Anthony or be banished forever to the care of Great Aunt Honoria who lives in Bath and keeps thirty-seven cats and a pug. Frederica is certain Anthony will not offer marriage but that is until his father 'leans' on him. Anthony is made to understand that either he offers for Frederica or he is banished to live with his do-gooder uncle in Brazil. Reluctantly betrothed to each other, Anthony and Frederica cast about for a way out of the engagement that doesn't mean either Bath, Brazil or marriage.
One of the most tiresome books I've read by this author. Yes, there are flashes of humor but mostly this is like a sitcom with a laugh track. It's certainly not a tale of high romance and you wonder why the protagonists - I can't call them hero and heroine - would ever wish to marry each other rather than go to Bath or Brazil or why anyone would for a moment think they're ready for such a step.
First published 1990 by Berkley
"Oof!" The lady bounced off him onto her backside.
Suddenly aware of what was certainly a young damsel in distress, Charles Carlesworth rushed to the rescue, only to become the victim of a virago, whom, upon closer inspection turned out to be his godmother's long lost granddaughter. Before he knew it he was coerced into the office of dancing master, riding instructor and finishing school to the maddening yet beguiling Arabella as well as the less than proud owner of a white kitten with one orange and one black ear. And that was just the beginning.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Georgette Heyer should love this book as it borrows heavily from her novels, The Grand Sophy and These Old Shades in particular; at times it even lifts bits and pieces of the dialogue. That's not saying it is a bad book, it isn't, but it sure is derivative.
First published 1992 by Jove
Two Hearts Trump
"Save me, Aunt Eugenia! Save me from a fate worse than death! Save me from that - that monster!"
Ten years ago when her brother was met with an untimely accident, Eugenia Winwright had been on the cusp of marrying Marcus, Lord Luckthorpe. Joined in the guardianship of his daughter and son, she had not set eyes on Marcus since the funeral; all contact between them carried out by mail. It was therefore rather a shock to Eugenia on arriving home after a three week absence to find the earl firmly ensconced in her home and in a pitched battle with his ward. Unbeknownst to her aunt, Cecille had done her own writing to her guardian in a bid for him to consent to her marriage before she even had her come-out. Lord Luckthorpe's solution is simple - Cecille shall have her come-out now and Eugenia will accompany her. With dismay Eugenia faces not only her return to society but the prospect of several months of Marcus company.
A lot of domestic drama in this book. I have a bit of a problem with people that believe they know others better than they know themselves and this story abounds with them. Eugenia thought she knew better what Marcus wanted and broke the engagement. Marcus thinks he knows better than Eugenia what she wants and pushes his solutions on her. Cecille feels she knows better than anyone not just what is best for her but best for everyone else as well. As does Cecille's prospective fiancee as well as Marcus' mother. It's a fast paced, well written read but it seems to me too many obstinate, willful people got in the way of true romance.
First published 1993 by Jove
An Accidential Match
"Oh, dear. The children have killed a lord. That's very bad, I'm sure."
Viscount Chalmsy, Jack to his family, had enough of his sister in law's matchmaking. The limit was reached when she tricked him to rush to her rescue only to find himself surrounded by a dozen pretty young things all on the catch for a husband. With a small case strapped behind he left both his valet and groom behind as he dashes out of town. An unfortunate encounter with a ditch landed him in Miss Carrington's charge. Since her father's death, and even for some time before that, Julia had run the household, cared for her younger siblings and overseen the cash strapped estate. What was a rather spoilt and snappish viscount to her? As time passed each found much to admire in the other yet in the eyes of the world they were poles apart. Could love truly conquer all?
Sequel to Instructing Arabella
First published 1995 by Jove
Anthology: Regency Holiday
Christmas at Wickly
Five Regency Christmas stories.
Copyright notice: Excerpts from the books are italized and copyrighted property of Judith Nelson, 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.