Friday, May 15, 2009

Mrs McVinnie's London Season - Carla Kelly


Jeannie McVinnie was young and lovely-but she was also a widow with no intention of marrying again. And if she ever did, it certainly would not be to the high-handed, hot-tempered Captain William Summers.

The swashbuckling Summers was a naval hero who found himself at sea in the London social swim and demanded that Jeannie help his pretty niece take the plunge into the London Marriage Mart. With her innocent charge in tow, Jeannie sailed into action--trying to steer a safe course in a whirlpool of romantic intrigue… and trying to keep herself from being swept away in a wild storm of love...

Although I came late to appreciate Carla Kelly, I did love the latest books I read by her. I was naturally eager to read this Mrs. McVinnie but I'm afraid I had a hard time with the heroine.

Jeannie McVinnie receives a letter inviting her to move to London and play nanny to the niece and nephew of captain Summers. Although she knows that the letter is not in reality for her but for her father in law's sister (who has died) she sees it as a way to stop being a burden to her father in law and she thinks she can play nanny as well as the original Jeannie McVinnie.

Of course, things don’t exactly go smoothly and as soon as Jeannie arrives, she is confused with a seamstress and when the truth is revealed not only she has reached the conclusion that she doesn't want to stay but also the captain is furious at the deception.

Jeannie eventually decides to stay, the captain is in obvious need of a hand to help him (and control his temper), his niece and sister in law are frivolous and snobs, his nephew is craving attention and a young illegitimate child that lives in the house doesn't even speak.

Although a Scottish countrywoman Jeannie eventually manages to teach everyone a lesson about what's important in life. She manages to be a success with Beau Brummell despite a trick Larinda and her friends were planning, she transforms Edward into a healthy young boy, takes him about in London, and with her Clare finally starts to speak. In addition, in the middle of it all she and the captain do fall in love.

I think my main problem with this book was that I found the heroine too perfect for my tastes; she never had a bad word about anyone, never a less than pleasant retort (except for the captain) despite Larinda being very deserving of one. It was too much perfection, I love flawed characters and despite her early deception Jeannie McVinnie is a candidate for sainthood except when she is with the captain or with Brummell.

One thing that Kelly usually does well is to show the hardships of daily life. In fact I think she even favors that over any accuracy matters. Her characters are usually found bending much of the rules of polite society ( Summers and Jennie spend much time together alone in the middle of the night...), unfortunately my lack of interest in Jennie stopped me from enjoying her attempts to make everything right for everyone and I wasn't even very moved when her past problems were revealed.

Grade: 3.5/5




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