Friday, June 20, 2014

The Widow's Redeemer- Philippa Jane Keyworth

★★
November 2012, 290 Pages (Kindle)
A penniless young widow with an indomitable spirit. A wealthy viscount with an unsavory reputation.

London, 1815: After her husband’s untimely death, Letty Burton comes up from the country with her domineering mother-in-law. Hiding a past she wishes to forget and facing an uncertain future, all she wants is to navigate London Society as a silent companion.

A chance meeting with London’s most eligible bachelor sets in motion a series of events that will bring her quiet life under the unfriendly scrutiny of the ton. With the net of scandal, debts, and rivals closing in, will she let her dark past dictate her life forever? Will she learn to trust again? And most importantly, will she allow herself to love?
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I’ve read a fair few Regencies in the past couple of years, and I would rank this amongst one of my favourites. The notion of a retelling of the Book of Ruth set in the Regency period was clever and generally well done, with a realistic and accurate historical setting, and a stock of well-drawn characters. Letty /Lettice(which I imagine was short for Letitia), a hurting woman whose abusive marriage destroyed her belief in love struggling to survive in society. Major Deverill, the dashing and honourable war veteran who quickly befriends out heroine and leads and defends her through many trials, and Viscount Beaumont, the rakish nobleman who is not all he seems.

There are enough balls, hobnobbing with high society and glamorous dresses and period delights to please fans of Regency. I enjoyed the story itself on one level for what it was not- it was not what I call ‘fluffy’ romance in which the protagonists are constantly dwelling on the physical attractiveness of the other, or kissing at every given opportunity. Admittedly Beauford is smitten with Letty (but not she him), but in came across in a way that seemed almost- chivalrous- not soppy or silly.
The struggles, attitudes, outlook and language of the characters seemed to fit in with the time period, and did not seem too Americanised, which is something of an issue for me. No doubt the reason was that the author is British, so it’s pleasing to find a British author with a successful work Christian Fiction genre.

I did have one or two complaints. One was the lack of religious commitment on the part of the male protagonist, who is meant to be the Boaz character of the story, (for those unfamiliar with the Biblical account he was the faithful Jewish landowner who married Ruth- the non-Jewish woman who embraced their faith and people) which was a fact that did not seem to change towards the end. Perhaps it’s not a wholly founded complaint, but it seemed to me that for Christian Regency, there was not a lot that was ostensibly Christian.
I think perhaps the author was trying to make the change in his character more subtle, in line with the theme of redemption though love central to the story. Finally, there was some of the language- in the sense of swear words, yes they were understandable in light of the circumstances and the feelings of the characters- but I somehow thought it seemed distasteful to keep saying ‘damn him’ of a person who was already dead.

Generally, a solid and enjoyable story it’s easy to get lost in, with faint shades of Austen. I would certainly be interested in reading Mrs Keyworth’s next novel, due out in September.

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