Monday, April 17, 2006

Love's Reward; Jean R Ewing

Jean Ross Ewing now publishes as Julia Ross. This title was originally published in 1997 by Zebra & is a traditional Regency.

Joanna Acton and Fitzroy Mountfichet are forced to marry because Joanna & Fitzroy's brother Quentin ran away to a posting inn together but were caught next morning. As Quentin is already married to a former stage actress, Fitzroy's father forced him to 'do right by the family'. Joanna's older brother despises Fitzroy due to an incident years earlier during the war. Robert's intense dislike for Fitzroy causes more mental anguish than Joanna already has, as they are close & she respects his opinion. Surely Robert wouldn't be wrong about a man's character? Fitzroy can't be loveable if Robert doesn't like him, right?

Fitzroy is entangled in government espionage & a plot among a few women of the Ton. As he desires this to be a marriage of convenience, he hides quite a bit of what's actually happening from Joanna. His sudden marriage causes difficulties all around- with his superior in the government, his wife & her family. Only the women plotting against him seem to relish the prospect of humilaiting Fitzroy's wife. The bright spot in his character that gives Joanna most cause for thought is Fitzroy's soft spot for his frail sister Mary. Can he be all that bad? Look at how he dotes on her!

One of my biggest issues with this book is that Joanna is supposed to be 'still in the schoolroom' which I took to be between 17-19. Her behavior other than the initial flight with Quentin, however, is decidedly more mature than most girls her age & I found this increasingly hard to deal with as the plot moved on. There was little or no levity in her at all- a trait rarely seen in girls of this age group.

My other issue is that I don't believe one action or series of related actions, committed while under duress, during a war, ought to permanently stain a man's character. I'm not saying one has a free pass in these or similar circumstances, but I also believe in new beginnings & dislike grudge holding.

Anyhow, this book reminds me of another with very similar plot lines which I have on my Keeper shelves. Love's Reward is not quite as heartwrenching, but is well plotted with rounded characters & is excellent to while away a rainy afternoon.


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