Tuesday, June 9, 2009

St. Martin's Summer - Diana Brown

Miss Josephina Trafford was quite happy tolive a safe distance from the fashionable frenzy of Regency London. Not only was she a young lady of good breeding and even better sense, she was busy enough trying to save her family estate, curb the extravagance of her flighty mother, and provide for the marriages of her two charming but helpless sisters.

But if Josephina would not go near the temptations of the city, they came to her--in the devilishly handsome form of Lord Conniston Venables. Venables was on an unwilling visit to the countryside, but the sight of Josephina made him eager to stay until he conquered her. He could not imagine she could resist a man who knew so well the ways of the world--until Josephina began to teach him how much he had to learn about the ways of a woman's untamed heart...

After her father’s death, Josephina Trafford became the head of her family. Left with considerable debts, she does everything she can to put her state in perfect order and settle her sisters dowry as stipulated by her father’s will.

When a problem arises, she seeks her new neighbor, Lord Conniston Venables, to help her solve it. Both Conniston and Josephina seemed intrigued by each other. But he has a wicked reputation with the ladies and is even accused of compromising the sister of a friend. Everything seemed to set them apart and yet, they are intensely drawn to each other.

Josephina is a strong-willed, independent and very intelligent heroine. Her family’s state is on her hands and she knows it’s their only source of income. She has no troubles refusing extravagances and childish requests to her vapid mother and foolish younger sister, Amelia. They both blame her constantly for not getting what they want and for living so above their station. In fact, everyone around Josephina seems to think her savings and care for her lands are exaggerated and those matters are not fit for a young lady like her. This annoys our heroine quite often, but she just ignores them all and does what she thinks is the best. How can we not admire someone like her?

Now, Lord Conniston Venables is another matter. He doesn’t seem a nice person when we first meet him. He sounds too arrogant, careless and too libertine. In other words, the perfect rogue. His reputation precedes him and he is clearly “persona non grata” among the local gentry. They all seem eager to see him go. He has other plans, especially after meeting Josephina.

The dashing Lady Eliza Coningsby reminds me a lot of Miss Caroline Bingley from Pride And Prejudice. The remarks about the locals, the lack of sophistication, Josephina’s manly occupations… Everything seems not good enough for her and when she learns our heroine has never been to London, she is absolutely shocked. Venables arrogant sister is no better with her concerns after Jo’s lowly social status might damage her own and worst, her son’s. What a pair of utterly despicable young ladies we have here.

The scene of the proposal is intense and filled with excruciating distress. This scene and even some details made me think sometimes about Pride and Prejudice. The arrogant handsome man who moves in different social circles, the local intelligent and witty young lady with a crazy family, the 1st refused proposal. Of course, here Jo is in love for Conniston and well aware of it, but his snobbish sister took care of any hopes she might had of a possible relationship.

I quite enjoyed the characters but felt somehow the upcoming marriages were just there to create some additional and unnecessary drama. Why suddenly someone so level headed as Jo would make something so rushed up?! She was hurting, saw herself alone and took this decision, but for me it just didn’t sound like Josephina Trafford.

Despite my opinion of the end, this book is a very pleasant surprise and certainly another recommendation for all the Regency fans out there.

Grade: 4/5

You can also read Ana T.'s review of this book here.




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