Tuesday, January 26, 2016

American Heiresses Conquer Jolly Old England



American heiresses - Amazon Book ReviewIf you've ever tossed yourself headlong into the fantasy of marrying into British nobility—whether by watching Downton Abbey, reading People magazine, or devouring dozens upon dozens of historical romance novels that are simply littered with eligible dukes, earls, and whatnot—then two new books by Eloisa James and Maya Rodale are just the thing to keep those daydreams going.

 

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Lady Bridget's Diary by Maya Rodale - Rodale launches a bubbly new series featuring four American siblings as they shake up London's ton. Lady Bridget is trying very, very hard to learn all the complicated rules of English society under the fierce eye of her aunt, the Duchess of Durham. But Bridget's launch into London starts most inauspiciously when she slips at her first ball and lands flat on her back on the floor. Luckily, handsome and funny Rupert comes to her aid. Unluckily, Rupert's brother, Lord Darcy, finds Bridget less than charming and makes his disdain for her American ways clear, earning himself the moniker "Dreadful Darcy" in Bridget's diary. Bridget also confides in her diary a number of ruinous secrets about her own family and about Rupert. When Bridget's diary is stolen by a social rival, it is Lord Darcy who springs into action to save the day, and Bridget begins to wonder if she's wronged him. Rodale's story revels in its inspiration from both Pride and Prejudice and P&P's modern-day retelling, Bridget Jones's Diary. (Lady Bridget...Lord Darcy...get it?) There's even a marvelous scene where Lord Darcy and Lady Bridget get dunked in a lake, causing Lord Darcy's shirt to cling to him in a way that awakens Bridget's awareness of him as being more delicious than dreadful. One challenge to showing both Lady Bridget's and Lord Darcy's points of view is that Bridget's lack of recognition of Darcy's worth comes off less sympathetic than was Elizabeth's or Bridget's cluelessness, for the reader can see clearly that Lord Darcy is far better than Bridget gives him credit for. Lady Bridget tilts closer to Bridget Jones than Elizabeth Bennet, with her diary entries and her counting of sugar cubes. Readers who enjoy a tinge of modern sensibility married with historical romance will find this a fun, frothy read.
 

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My American Duchess by Eloisa James - I enjoy James's stories at all times, but I like them the most when she unleashes her funny side. James lets her sense of humor run loose in this tale of an heiress who leaves America in order to escape her reputation for being flighty (she's been engaged twice already) and who promptly enters into her third engagement on page one to English lord Cedric. But by page 12, it's pretty clear that Miss Merry Pelford has, once again, become engaged to the wrong fellow. Unfortunately, the right fellow is her fiance's older brother, the Duke of Trent. Bad blood between Trent and Cedric makes the situation more tense, even as Merry's forthright American ways gives Cedric apoplexy. The situation doesn't sound funny, but the way that Merry worries about whether she has the capacity to fall in love for more than a minute, and how Trent gets mentally sidetracked every time he meets his future sister-in-law, will have the reader in stitches. And Trent's feelings for Merry are touchingly deep and true despite Merry's jitters and Trent's own belief that love shouldn't be a part of marriage (silly man). Warm, witty, and radiant with the power of new-found love, My American Duchess easily earned a spot as one my favorite Eloisa James books.
 

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