Thursday, September 01, 2011

Book Review: Lydia by Wanda Luce

At six and twenty, the impoverished Lydia Hathaway has endured bleak years of heartbreak, longing for a love that never came. Her deceased father's foolhardiness has left her family bankrupt, and Lydia is eventually left no alternative but to take a position as the companion and governess to Susan Ashcroft of Danbury Park in Surrey. During the first days at her post, Lydia pines bitterly for a life she believes forever lost. Anxious for peace, she rambles one morning across the muddy wilds of the Ashcroft estate where she has a most unimaginable encounter with the notorious Lord Connor Denton. As their paths continue to cross, Lydia falls ever deeper in love with the charming rogue while battling against his growing assault on her heart. In spite of his forward attentions, she considers his behavior toward her as nothing less than idle flirtation. And why should she think otherwise? As the wealthy son of an earl, Lord Denton may choose from among the most beautiful women of England's first circles--none to which Lydia claims inclusion. In spite of her indignation over Lord Denton's rakish maneuvering, she anguishes beneath the reality that he is forever beyond her reach. Tormented in a relentless battle to suppress a love she cannot overcome, Lydia resolves to leave the Ashcrofts and Danbury Park forever. After all, she is nothing to Denton--isn't she?

My Thoughts: When my publisher first handed me their new release and asked me to review it, I wasn't sure what I would think. I love "bonnet" movies, but I've always found the language of the Jane Austen and other Regency novels to be a little hard to understand. In Lydia, I was pleasantly surprised to find that while the language did have the flavor of the times, I could understand every word, and I didn't have to flip a switch in my brain from "English" to "Regency" to get what was going on.

Our main character, Lydia, is a very likable young lady, and it's easy to feel her emotions and understand her predicament. In the Regency era, people faced things that we'd consider pretty simple today. Don't have money? Well, go get a job! Someone spreads a rumor about you? Set them straight and get on with it! Not sure if someone loves you? Grab them, kiss them, and see if they kiss you back! Sure enough - today, we can take care of our problems in a pretty forthright way, but back in Regency times, they were constrained to certain codes of behavior, and young ladies had to wait for the objects of their affections to declare themselves. No grabbing him and kissing him allowed - they had to wait to be grabbed and kissed, and Lydia does wait, a good long time, for Lord Denton to make up his mind. Granted, he was dealing with plenty of his own issues, and he didn't want to dally with her affections until he was sure of himself, and that was the right thing to do, but poor Lydia was left to wonder all that time. Thankfully, he eventually did settle the question, and they found their happily-ever-after. I can tell you that without spoiling the story because it's a romance, and if they didn't end up together, you couldn't call it a romance.

I enjoyed the interactions between the characters, the use of costume and conventions to paint a picture of the times, and observing the social mores that make the era what it was. The only thing I did wish had been done a little differently was the moment when they both confess their feelings - I'd been hoping for just a little more there. Overall, I greatly enjoyed the story, found it highly diverting, and feel that any properly brought-up young lady should add it to their to-read list.

I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my opinion and was not threatened with losing my inheritance if I posted a negative review.

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