Thursday, June 05, 2008

Thorne Family Trilogy; Judith Lansdowne

The titles in this group are: Just in Time, Just Perfect, and Just Impossible. I love Ms. Lansdowne's books, I've three on my keeper shelves already. I hemmed and hawed about the first one, bypassing it several times at the store. I'm nothing if not indecisive, so the longer I hesitated the scarcer traditional Regencies became. These are all longer than most TRs, though.

The first one Just in Time tells the story of Veronica Thorne, Dowager Duchess of Berinwick, and the new rector of the village church, Richard Dempsey. They were childhood friends decades ago, suddenly and unexpectedly reunited by her grace's now deceased husband. Veronica is plagued with guilt and sorrow concerning an episode long in her past, but one that has had profound impact on the lives of her family members. Richard proves to be a most unique vicar, but well up to the difficult task of wooing Veronica, rebuilding the local church and hunting antiquities, all simultaneously. Veronica is older than Richard, and both are in their forties. I also liked the fact that the little Berinwick family is close and loving and that they take their responsibilities to their villagers very seriously. Not only that but the servants are protective of the family as well.

Just Perfect takes place nine years later when young Hannah Thorne is twenty three and is spending the Season at Berinwick rather than in London. It seems his Grace's carefully cultivated fearsome reputation scares off all but one of Hannah's potential suitors. Deciding to quit the field, Hannah is spending the Season at home. First though, she must rescue a traveller lost in the middle of the moor, fend off well meaning matchmakers and figure out who murdered a long lost young woman who returned to the village unexpectedly and was murdered before anyone knew she was back. Ian Denham, Marquis of Kearny and Mallory is also in the village because the Squire is auctioning off some prime horseflesh and every red blooded aristocrat with the slightest inclination to breeding racehorses is in the area. Ian also happens to have an odd 'gift' that can put people off and is afraid of the dark. But Anne Gazenby thinks Hannah and Mal would be perfect if only she can get them together in the right circumstances..The loving relationship between the siblings was nicely done. Richard and Veronica make an appearance as well. For those who are interested in such things, Ian is a beta hero.

The last one in the family group is Just Impossible and is, at long last, the story of the bad, evil, audacious Duke of Berinwick himself, William Thorne. Julia Delacroix has something she hopes his Grace will want enough to pay her a princely sum. Enough so Julia give her young cousin Emma one gilded Season before Julia's bigger plan unfolds. One she has carefully nurtured for nearly twenty years. William and his young ward Elf are determined to help Julia- even if she doesn't particularly want them to. There are several very funny scenes with the dog, which leavened the over the top drama at the end. Still and all with the one overdone scene, this is one of those romances where I was really glad the hero found someone to love him. Like the other two books in the series, strong healthy family relationships were deftly done. According to the story, Julia is twenty nine, nearly thirty and William is thirty nine, pushing forty. Again there are glimpses of life behind the green baize door separating the Family from the servants.

All of these books are put out by Zebra, 2003 and 2004 respectively. Keepers all, because the Thornes are one of my favorite family groups.

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