Originally Posted at Bibliophile's Retreat by Melissa Meeks
Harvest House Publishers (December 1, 2008)
Ariana Forsythe is determined she must wed a clergyman because this is God’s will for her life. However the only local clergyman is closer to her father’s generation in age than to hers and her parents see this as a definite issue. While the family is determining how to get Ariana away from her fixation on an inappropriate mate or at least distract her till she’s forgotten that obsession, an invitation arrives for her eldest sister to spend the season with their Aunt in London and have a proper coming out. As this sister happens to be engaged already, the family decides that Ariana will go in her place and hopefully find that God has other plans for her than marrying a man over twice her age. Aunt Bentley is a bit twisted out of shape when she finds that Ariana is not the eldest girl yet insists that she be presented as if she were.
Almost on Ariana’s arrival and announcements of her “coming out” this season, Aunt Bentley receives an invitation to the Mornay estate from the heir’s Aunt who will likely be the only family present at a society doing of this sort. Ariana has been warned of “the Paragon”, Mr. Phillip Mornay who just happens to be as much a determined bachelor and society playboy as she is determined to wed amongst the clergy. His reasons aren’t clear at this point and although neither of them realize at the time who the other one is, they happen to bump into one another at this party. “The Paragon” is rumored to be one of those who has little true interest in a woman for who she is yet is bored by the typical society divas that throw themselves at his feet begging for a crumb of attention and everyone insists that he is bad news.
Yet there seems to be an air of intrigue and mystery surrounding him that no one has been able to penetrate and discover the real person beneath this stoic and blasé exterior. What will pass between himself and Ariana through her short time in the midst of society that she finds constrictive as he takes on a more prominent role in her life? What irks them both about the typical interplay of society maids and their shrewish maternal figures includes the catty manipulations to get the best match they can possibly snag (meaning richest and most well positioned in society who deigns to give them more than a glance). While everyone aspires to a place on “the Paragon’s” arm no one has yet managed to snag that coveted station and he seems oblivious to their attempts other than playing the game in order to send each new fawning “lady” on their way the moment they approach his territory. When Ariana becomes caught up in this game of cat and mouse amongst the females simply by being around Mornay suddenly decides it is up to him to turn the tables on these women he can’t seem to put up with.
Burkard has woven a wonderful tapestry of history, romance and adventure along with just a hint of intrigue into this Regency tale rife with comedies of error. Many of which involve the stumbling attempts of a country girl to please her rich Aunt with impeccable manners and deportment amongst the elite of London. It seems however that her ineptitude and naivete is exactly what attracts a certain gentleman in the first place. (ISBN#9780736925518, 348pp, $12.99)
Read the first chapter. Drop into Linore’s website for a chat and variety of resource materials on the time period. Click the bookcover above to purchase your own copy as well as read more about the book.