Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Wednesday Wonders: MISCHIEF & MANORS

Today's Wednesday Wonders features 
Mischief & Manors 
by Ashtyn Newbold

About Mischief & Manors:

“Although his voice was gentle, his words struck me with the panic ridden feeling of being unarmed. He was uncovering buried truths from the deepest recesses of my heart, and I felt completely exposed by it.”

When Annette Downing and her mischievous little brothers were orphaned, Annette closed her heart off, dedicating her life to raising her brothers and protecting them from her abusive aunt. But when her wicked aunt sends them to Kellaway Manor for the summer to reform the boys’ bad behavior, Annette is reunited with the handsome Owen Kellaway, a childhood friend just as mischievous as her brothers. She soon finds her closeted heart in jeopardy in the battle between fear and desire. Does she have room in her heart for another?

Owen turned his attention to my brothers again, resuming his tutorial tone of voice. “Anyhow, the answer I was looking for, when I asked you what a lady likes more than anything in the world, is . . . compliments.”
Peter’s brow furrowed. “What is a compliment?”
“To compliment someone is to flatter them with kind words. To tell them of something that you like about them, whether it be of their appearance or conduct. But don’t be mistaken into thinking that you should pay a compliment to every pretty girl that passes by. Give compliments only to those who truly deserve them.”
He stood up and walked in front of me where I sat on the edge of the fountain. His body acted as a shield from the sunlight, trapping me in his shadow. I looked up at him. Nervousness fluttered in my stomach for a reason I couldn’t name.
“Now, I know your sister doesn’t particularly like compliments,” he paused to shoot me a relentless smile, “but she is certainly one who deserves them.” He waved my brothers over. “So, come here and practice your compliments. You may say something about her beauty, her kindness, or whatever it is you like about her.”
I watched with amusement as Charles trudged to his feet and stifled a giggle. There was no possible way that he would take this seriously. He stopped beside Owen in front of me and flashed me a gap-toothed smile. “Your eyes are green.” He giggled and looked at Owen for approval.
Owen laughed and knelt beside Charles on the grass. He was facing me, his line of sight directly even with mine. He looked back at Charles briefly. “Almost. But you must tell her more about her eyes.” He took a slow breath and moved his gaze to me. “Tell her how beautiful they are, and how they make the rest of the world disappear. How any man would have to be blind not to lose himself within them.”
I scolded my heart for how wildly it was jumping around in my chest. This is only another demonstration. Surely he is not serious, I told my heart.
Charles giggled again. “I don’t want to say that!”
Owen didn’t move his gaze from my face. “Don’t worry. That one was from me.”

My Book Review:

Some young women without much experience raising children might find the first chapter delightful. At first I was annoyed with this introduction to this Regency romance. Two little boys, ages 5 and 7, were involved in stealing, an act they had been guilty of several times in the past. It was passed off as mischief by the older sister, Annette, age 19. Although she convinced the boys to return the food they stole, throughout the chapter she either made light of their antics or otherwise protected them from consequences of their wrongdoings, partly because they were cute. As a mother of a couple of children who, when they were little, often tried to “cutsie” their way out of trouble, it grated.

Then, as the history of this family unfolded with the mean pie vendor, the critical townspeople, and the wicked aunt who had grudgingly taken in the orphaned trio, it was easier to understand Annette’s motivation for her over-compensating attitude and indulgent treatment of her brothers. She had been solely responsible for the love and direction they received from the time she was a young teen with no good role model to help her. She had also shut her heart down to avoid the hurt of the loss of their parents, the rejection of their remaining family, and the deprivations the trio suffered.

After the trio was sent to Kellaway Manor, supposedly as a punishment with a threat of dire consequences for the boys if they didn’t learn proper behavior, Annette came in contact with Owen, a childhood friend who sometimes acted as her nemesis. As a child he was just as mischievous as her brothers. The author handled well the growing attraction to Owen that Annette fought against because she felt falling in love with him would betray her commitment to focus her love and attention on her brothers. The author also handled Owen’s actions and responses well and consistent with his personality.

There was opposition in the form of a meddling grandmother, a neighbor intent on winning Owen’s offer of marriage more for status and wealth than for love, and a vengeful villain who threatened those at the manor. There were also shows of love and support by the supporting cast of characters, not to mention Annette learned the true nature of love. It is a sweet romance with a satisfying message and conclusion.

About Ashtyn Newbold:

Ashtyn Newbold discovered a love of writing early in high school. Inspired by regency period romance, she wrote her first novel at the age of sixteen. Because she can’t vacation in her favorite historical time periods, she writes about them instead. When not crafting handsome historical heroes, she enjoys baking, sewing, music, and spoiling her dog. She dreams of traveling to England and Ireland. Ashtyn is currently studying English and creative writing at Utah Valley University. She lives in Lehi, Utah with her family.

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