I learned in a college class many years ago that I am what’s known as a shy extrovert. I’m often nervous and awkward around new people, but I feel energized in large groups and gatherings. Because of this odd paring I love to go to social gatherings, but most of my time there I spend trying to convince myself not to be awkward. I guess that’s why I find such enjoyment in reading about awkwardness, makes me feel like I’m not alone in this world.
“After years of escaping etiquette lessons in favor of the stables, Christine Devon’s grand debut in London is only weeks away, though her deportment lacks the sophisticated polish she needs to achieve her goals of a lofty marriage. Desperate to take her place in society, she needs someone to instruct her in proper behavior.
Thomas Gilbert, newly returned from Italy, is ready to begin his dream of founding a horse farm. But during his time away, the estate’s finances have dwindled to almost nothing. Unless he can find a way to save his family from ruin, he will be forced to sell his horses and give up his dreams entirely.
A chance meeting between them may solve both their problems. Christine gains a tutor in the finer arts of polite behavior, while Thomas is given access to the finest bloodlines in England. But as time passes, the arrangement is less about business, and more about love. Will they see it in time, or will Christine leave Thomas behind for the splendor of London’s ballrooms?”
Christine is painfully naive and awkward, but written so well that you can’t help but love her. Sally did a marvelous job of having Christine and Thomas grow together in both their love and their maturity, showing well developed characters.
She also presented a wonderful juxtaposition between the two families. One were love was encouraged and freely given and one where family was an investment you expected a return on. This latter idea was not uncommon during this era and I appreciated how realistically harsh Sally was about familial ideas of the time. While pushing that next to the growing idea that people are more than a business transaction and given love will give a greater return.
**If you sign up for Sally’s newsletter on her website she’ll send you a free ebook novella of Thomas’ sister, Martha’s story. Martha’s Patience.
“Martha Gilbert’s third London Season looks no more promising than the previous two. Despite her best efforts, she has yet to receive an offer of marriage from the one man who matters, her escort and friend, Mr. Brody.
George Brody returns to London every year, going to the same parties, balls, and seeing the same people. The one bright spot to fulfilling the role expected of him by society is squiring Martha around town.
This year, Martha is determined to wed, and George must to decide if he wishes to remain friends or become something more.”
Martha isn’t the usual simpering miss, not only is she refreshing, but it provided moments of laughter and tension. I loved how she wrote Martha’s awkward attempts at flirting from Thomas’ perspective, brilliantly done. Sally writes such moments so well I’m wondering if she has personal experience with such situations and am beginning to think Sally and I would be great awkward friends.
Sally’s most recently released novel was released just last month, The Gentleman Physician, exhibits Sally’s diversity as an author.
“Banished from home by her angry father, Julia Devon travels to Bath to fulfill her role as family spinster by assisting her cousin, Lady Macon, in caring for her dying husband.
Nathaniel Hastings’s life runs in a predictable pattern, until a routine visit to one of his ailing patients brings him face to face with Julia, the woman who broke his heart five years before in London.
Julia and Nathaniel find themselves unlikely allies as they work together to tend to the family’s needs, fend off Lady Macon’s scheming brother-in-law, and avoid confronting the pain of their shared past. But could this accidental meeting be their second chance at love?”
Through this story we are given the details of Christine’s sister Julia’s failed season. The story is less awkward humor and more tender emotions. (Don’t read it tomorrow, wait till after mother’s day, it’s a tad heart rending). The background for Julia and Nathaniel’s re-connection deals with loss in various forms and Sally writes it with sensitivity and finesse.
I’m always excited to add new author’s to my list of reads, and am secretly grateful this is an online venue so that we can all be friends without all that awkwardness getting in the way. 😉