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Fairchild Kindle Edition
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|Length: 290 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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Top customer reviews
It's a quiet story about the illegitimate daughter of an English peer, the result of an affair when her mother was governess in the lord's household. When her mother dies unexpectedly, 10-year-old Sophy is taken to live in her father's house with his two legitimate children and his wife. There are no histrionics from anybody about a "by-blow" being brought into the house. Sophy is integrated into the family fairly painlessly, although the truth of her birth keeps her on an unequal footing in society.
So this is the story of Sophy growing up, learning to live as best she can in the ton, reaching marriageable age and being pulled in two directions by her father and stepmother's wishes and the wishes of her own heart. All the characters here are as complexly good and bad as individuals are in real life, so Sophy's marriage choice between her upper-class cousin Alisdair and her "Cit" neighbor Tom isn't as clear-cut as it would be in a less subtle story with one or the other of the suitors being a bit of a jerk.
There are lots of 5-star ratings for this book and comparisons to Jane Austen's work. I don't believe it deserves such effusive raves and have noticed that several of the reviews are from friends of the author. However, having said that, I do still feel it's a very good debut book and deserves a read. If you are the type of historical romance reader who enjoys the quieter, cleaner stories, this is right up your alley.
Sophy turns a marriageable age, and now the family is faced with “what to do about Sophy.” They decide, because she is a truly sweet and obedient girl, they can arrange for an acceptable marriage for her despite her bastard status. Her step-mother, Georgiana, sets out to make this happen in a way that will honor the family’s status, provide for Sophy’s well-being, and be profitable and agreeable for all. We see that Georgiana genuinely does care for Sophy, but also in the context of what her marriage can do for the family – a sign of the times, for Georgiana’s marriage was most likely arranged in the same manner.
Sophy, however, becomes entangled in a sort of misinterpretation of her social status which eventually results in a mutual attraction between her and a commoner who is also her sometimes neighbor (Tom). This, of course, muddies the water for her step-mother’s plan to ensure Sophy marries “well.” And so the story goes.
This was a very interesting read for me. I was so moved by the story of Sophy’s life and the family who embraces her with limitations. The author (thankfully) avoids the caricature of a cruel stepmother, and I was probably more interested in Georgiana than I was any of the other characters. She is a complex character and develops a concern for Sophy while still harboring the emotional pain inflicted by the liaison itself. I was also more fascinated by Lord and Lady Fairchild and their relationship with Sophy and with their own 2 children than with the romance itself.
In fact, I really didn’t feel the attraction between Sophy and Tom. I understood it, but it was more described, not shown, and even seemed a bit contrived. This was a little disappointing to me, but there was so much more to the story than just their romance. The crux of the plot focuses on the problems inflicted by a class structure which prohibits “intermingling.” This could result in a cliché-ridden story, but not so here. There is the requisite HEA, but not everything ends so tidily – so it was a bit more realistic than the endings perpetuated by the typical romance novel. I did like that – for a change.
Ultimately, this book left me ruminating for quite some time, and I truly appreciate a book that lingers long after the kindle is turned off. This was a welcome respite in a sea of flotsam and jetsam that this genre sometimes seems to perpetuate. I highly recommend it for a reader who appreciates being moved by the nature of human relationships. There is very little physical passion in this book – in fact, only a few quick and awkward kisses – but I hardly noticed the absence. It was a pleasure to read an author who recognizes that a romance affects more than just the tight little circle formed by the H and h. I highly recommend this book, and this author.
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