Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Review: Elizabeth's Rake & Cupid's Mistake

Elizabeth's Rake by Emily Hendrickson and Cupid's Mistake by Karen Harbaugh are a 'double header' so to speak published by Signet in February 2005. Each title was peviously published in 1993 & 1997 respectively.

"Elizabeth's Rake" stars, naturally, Elizabeth Dancy a nineteen year old accomplished amateur spy & engraver. Her love interest, David, Viscount Leighton, returned to his family estate to tend his ailing father. Miss Dancy lives with her aunt & two cousins nearby. On the eve of her aunt's annual St. Vaentine's ball, David climbs the wisteria outside Elizabeth's room & Elizabeth, fearing an intruder, shoots him. She is forced to nurse him, first at her aunt's home & then at Leighton's estate nearby after they become engaged (he having compromised her, naturally). Once at David's estate, things take an ominous turn. Suspicious activities abound & Elizabeth feels obligated to help David protect his father.

I enjoyed this traditional Regency despite figuring out the who the bad guy was before I had read halfway through. Elizabeth & David slowly draw you deeper & deeper into their intrigues. I didn't feel as though they were fully fleshed people, although I am under the impression they might have been in Hendrickson's earlier books (possibly featuring Elizabeth's sisters). Hendrickson includes many little details about superstitious beliefs during the period that I found fascinating & which helped me along to the end. Elizabeth's Rake was well worth reading, although I recommend looking for the previous titles involving the Dancy family since they might flesh out Elizabeth & David more fully.

Cupid's Mistake by Karen Harbaugh follows Miss Cassandra Hathaway & Paul Templeton, Marquess of Blytheland. Paul's first wife died in childbed attempting to birth another man's child. Paul meets Cassandra at a musicale, where she intrigues him by giving him an honest assessment of the violin divertimento he played. Paul has fallen head over heels in love with Cassandra & struggles to put aside the bitterness & pain of his previous marriage. Cassandra meanwhile must learn polite society's dictates regarding decorum & proper conversation. Being an honest & plainspoken woman of twenty three, Cassandra struggles with the idea that society functions best when one is willing to fabricate the occasional white lie & that brutal honesty does not always win one friends.

A serious misunderstanding nearly derails their relationship permanently, but with the help of Cassandra's sister, Psyche & Psyche's best 'imaginary' friend Harry, things are patched up between Paul & Cassandra. Laden with references to classic Greek mythology, the best part of this novel is Cassandra's parents' loving relationship with each other & their daughters. A facet too often missing in romances I find. Paul & Cassandra are fully rounded people who worked through several real problems to finally achieve their HEA. Harry & Psyche add just the right touch to leaven this novel with a touch of humour & whimsy.

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