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Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Book review: The Captain's Confidant by Ashtyn Newbold

Front cover of The Captain's Confidant by Ashtyn Newbold against background of rough sea and cliffs

Bridget Northcott has loved her brother’s best friend, Colin Foster, ever since she was a girl. He was the one who comforted her during her mother’s illness and death. The one who encouraged her to be kind and gave her good advice. At last Captain Foster returns from his life in the navy but the long-awaited reunion is not what Bridget had hoped for. Colin has changed. He has become hard. Distant. Unavailable.

A powerful story of love and duty, jealousy and forgiveness

I loved this story of how Bridget’s selfless love reclaims Colin from despair. Newbold employed regular flashbacks into Bridget’s past to give the backstory of her friendship with Colin and her sour relationship with Tabitha Terrell in small doses.

This is the second book in the Larkhall Letters series and, unsurprisingly, letters play a big role in the development of the plot. It is a real battle between love and duty, and I loved the intense emotional scenes where a happy ending for Colin and Bridget seems impossible. I haven’t read the first book in the series, but this didn’t detract from the story.

I was a bit concerned about Bridget’s propensity to lie, but she does realise that it is wrong. I thought the phrase “the lie burned on her tongue” particularly apt.

Quote from The Captain's Confidant by Ashtyn Newbold with front cover of book against background of rough sea and cliffs

Was Britain at war?

I would have liked to know what year the book was set in as I was curious as to whether Britain was still at war. If Colin was in the navy for several years, presumably he had been at some considerable risk.

There were not many specific historic references, but the book had the right feel about it and there was nothing that jarred, pulling me out of the story.

What was a dower house?

Bridget goes to stay in the dower house with Colin’s widowed mother rather than with Colin at Thorncarrow. But why was it called a dower house?

The property brought to a marriage by a woman was called a dowry or dower. The words are usually used slightly differently with dowry referring to the property brought into the marriage by the woman as a bride, and dower referring to the property in which the widow had a life interest. Hence, a dower house was where a widow had the right to live for the rest of her life.

Clean and sweet?

Heat level low and no language stronger than ‘devil take it’. There is mention of death and some mild physical and emotional trauma. 

Headshot of Rachel Knowles author with sea in background(2021)
Rachel Knowles writes clean/Christian Regency era romance and historical non-fiction. She has been sharing her research on this blog since 2011. Rachel lives in the beautiful Georgian seaside town of Weymouth, Dorset, on the south coast of England, with her husband, Andrew.

Find out more about Rachel's books and sign up for her newsletter here.

If you have enjoyed this blog and want to encourage me and help me to keep making my research freely available, please buy me a virtual cup of coffee by clicking the button below.

 

 Find more of my reviews of clean/Christian Regency era romance here.

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Book review: Pursuing Miss Hall by Karen Thornell

Tinsel and candle with front cover of Pursuing Miss Hall by Karen Thornell

A charming friends-to-lovers romance where worth and affection triumph

The scenario

After Margaret Hall misses her first season due to severe illness, her mother decides to hold a house party to introduce her to several eligible bachelors, notably the Viscount Hatfield.

Her childhood friend Nathaniel Blake is also invited, but Lady Hall does not consider him of sufficient standing to be included amongst the potential suitors for Meg’s hand.

Which is a pity, because Nathan is the one who makes Meg laugh and he has been in love with her for years…

What I liked

I really enjoyed this well-written Regency romance with its friends-to-lovers plot. In the same way that I included family trees at the start of A Reason for Romance, Thornell shared a guest list for the house party which highlighted the potential suitors. I thought this was a clever way of helping the reader keep tabs on the different characters.

Although this was a novella, I felt the characters were beautifully crafted and I had a whole story with enough time to reach a happy ever after without feeling rushed.

Front cover and quote from Pursuing Miss Hall by Karen Thornell

Historically speaking

Was croup a serious illness in the Regency?

The illness that kept Meg from her season was severe croup. I was somewhat surprised at this as I tend to associate croup with wheezy babies rather than with adults. However, according to my etymological dictionary, at this time, croup was the name for the ‘coughing illness’. This could refer to a number of different illnesses that affected the respiratory system. So maybe Meg had suffered from a severe chest infection rather than the sort of  croup that keeps babies awake at night.

What do you call the wife of a baronet?

A baronetcy is a hereditary title, but it is not a peerage. A baronet is designated Sir Christian-name Surname and is referred to as Sir Christian-name. In the case of Meg’s father, he is correctly called Sir Robert Hall or just Sir Robert.

A baronet’s wife is called Lady Surname. Meg’s mother is correctly referred to as Lady Hall everywhere except in the guest list for the house party. It is very tempting to include Christian names when you are introducing a character and here she is referred to as Lady Arabella Hall.

This would be the correct way of addressing her if she were the daughter of an earl or peer of higher rank as she would keep the title she had from her father if she married a non-peer. If this were the case, she would be referred to as Lady Arabella throughout.

You can read more about titles for married daughters of peers here. 

The trouble with pants

There is a mention of Nathan dusting off his pants. The US word for trousers jarred with me, but I suppose it could be seen as an abbreviation for pantaloons – the full-length, tight trousers that were fashionable in the Regency.

The little season

There are a couple of references to the little season, but I am not sure whether it existed in the Regency. The little season was held during the months of September to November and was an established part of the Victorian calendar, but I haven’t been able to find any references to it taking place in the Regency.

You can read more about the London season here. 

Clean and sweet?

Low heat rating with some mild trauma/accident. No swearing (unless you count ‘blasted’).

A delightful sweet romance - 5 stars

Headshot of Rachel Knowles author with sea in background(2021)Rachel Knowles writes clean/Christian Regency era romance and historical non-fiction. She has been sharing her research on this blog since 2011. Rachel lives in the beautiful Georgian seaside town of Weymouth, Dorset, on the south coast of England, with her husband, Andrew.

Find out more about Rachel's books and sign up for her newsletter here.

If you have enjoyed this blog and want to encourage me and help me to keep making my research freely available, please buy me a virtual cup of coffee by clicking the button below.