various romance

I picked up a ton of late 70s/early 80s historical romances (mostly Signet/Fawcett/Coventry series titles, mostly regency) from a used bookstore’s clearance; I read lots of these when I was much younger (they were often .25-.50 not-for-trade at the nearby used bookstore) and wanted to replace a few that were falling apart or that I’d gotten rid of but wanted to reread; the clearance was $5 for a grocery-bag full, so I filled a bag (more than once). Either I had better luck with my selections or I had a higher tolerance for mediocre writing and excessively spunky heroines when I was younger; I couldn’t read several of these for various reasons, and want to keep track of which ones I liked and which ones I hated and why. The dislikes are getting longer comments than the likes; also, this is the result of a few different attempts at the pile of books over about a year, so I don’t remember some of them very well, and the negative is easier to remember than the positive.

Liked

Horatia, Mary Ann Gibbs
The heiress Horatia flees her wicked uncle and becomes a stableboy.

The Reluctant Adventuress, Silvia Thorpe
Katharine was supposed to be a governess; her uncle and his wife invite her to live with them instead. They have ulterior motives.

Rogues’ Covenant, Silvia Thorpe
The mysterious Philip Digby comes to the neighborhood and attracts attention from all sorts of people; he claims to be the friend of the heir to a local estate. It’s told from the hero’s point of view; the heroine is described as “a headstrong girl” at one point (and is a few steps past that into spoiled and reckless). It has more action than many; I’m starting to wonder if that’s a side effect of being categorized as “Georgian”.

Eleanor and the Marquis, Jane Wilby (Harlequin Historical 1)
Beatrix falls in love with someone unsuitable and is shipped off to London for her Season ahead of schedule; her impoverished cousin Eleanor accompanies her. The aunt in charge (with the aid of her nephew, the marquis) decides to make Eleanor the rage of the season instead of Beatrix (Beatrix is blonde and blondes were in; she should have been a success). This one is nostalgic; it was one of the first of these I read, though that copy is long gone. I don’t know if I’d like it as much otherwise.

Lucetta, Audrey Blanshard
Lord Wintringham is extremely eccentric; his daughter Lucetta is a beautiful spitfire. Lord Wintringham suggests to a houseguest that he marry Lucetta; the houseguest leaves abruptly. A large number of misunderstandings ensue. I’d actually read this one at some point before.

Lord Fairchild’s Daughter, Maggie MacKeever
Lord Fairchild wagered his daughter Loveday’s virtue and lost; she, with the help of her half-brother, ran away from the winner to a distant relative to stay until she comes of age in the near future (she’s an heiress, of course). This is actually a bit gothic in tone; there are murders in the past (which Loveday witnessed but does not remember), attempts on her life, a crazy girl, a rake who wants to marry her (and who is rumored to have killed a governess), ghosts, and an oubliette. I had a hard time with some of the names, especially the housekeeper’s: Mrs. Snugglebutt.

The Misses Millikin, Maggie MacKeever (Coventry Romances 55)
Angelica lives with her stepmother and her numerous (and extremely attractive and extremely lacking in common-sense) half-siblings; she promised her father on his deathbed that she’d look after them. Rosemary, the oldest of her half-sisters (20 at most; Angelica is 27), married Lord Chalmers for his money; Angelica, Lily (the next sister), and Fennel (the oldest half-brother) go to London so Lily can have her chance. Rosemary, Lily, and Fennel have their share of problems, which they expect Angelica to solve; Angelica has days of wishing she could give up her responsibilities and be as frivolous as the rest of them. This was a rebuy; I adore it, and my copy was falling to pieces.

Indifferent

A Keeper for Lord Linford, Margaret SeBastian (Coventry Romances 170)
Lady Gordon, her daughter Ancilla, and two other girls are inexplicabley vacationing in the Lake District and meet the socially-inept Lord Linford and the rascally and dashing Captain Wildish. I don’t know why I finished this; I didn’t like any of the characters, events happened randomly, and I felt the hero and heroine were on a first-name basis too soon. One of the other girls speaks with italics, which got really annoying really fast.

Disliked

The Tulip Tree, Mary Ann Gibbs
The blurb is misleading; it says Allegra Lakesby had to leave her ancestral home (after her father died) to become a governess due to her irresponsible father. Instead, she, her mother, and an aunt have to leave their home for a smaller one nearby due to her father’s heir moving into the home; they are on friendly terms with him and he gives them things. Allegra is a spoiled brat and hates the smaller home and decides being a governess would be preferable to having come down in status, much to her family’s dismay. She leaves with their knowledge and blessing (they don’t think she’ll last a week), and that’s where I stopped. She also is excessively romantic and hopes that the eligible son of the family will fall in love with her. I may try this again at some point (through the initial governess-ing, at least); I’ve liked other books by the author.

The Random Gentleman, Elizabeth Chater (Coventry Romances 139)
Belinda Sayre finds out she has been betrothed to the Duke of Romsdale since birth; she is excessively spunky and he is self-centered, so they have bad impressions of each other without actually meeting; he is late for a party, and she leaves early in a huff; both say things they shouldn’t which get repeated to the other. She runs away; he wanders off in search of her and falls in with some gypsies. I stopped after they actually meet; he assumes she’s much younger and lower class, and she wonders if he’s really a gypsy. I didn’t care about either of them; I hate excessively spoiled and spunky heroines.

Babe, Joan Smith (Coventry Romances 22)
The notorious Lady Barbara never had an awkward teen stage and always looked like a woman; she didn’t care for any of her suitors until she met Lord Clivedon, who became her guardian and attempted to get her to behave properly. She is beyond spunky and into completely obnoxious; I did not like her and don’t want to read about her. I love other books by the author, but did not like this one and will not give it another chance.

A Sanditon Quadrille, Rebecca Baldwin (Coventry Romances 118)
Spirited Miranda Brandywine knows there is no reason for her father to stop her marriage to the poet Charles Hartley; gentle Emily Rockhall doesn’t want to marry the impetuous Lord Marle, even though her mother wants her to marry him. The author admits to borrowing the town of Sanditon from Jane Austen; she does not admit to borrowing various other characters and plots from Austen and Heyer (Bath Tangle, especially).

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