Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Wednesday Wonders: TO SUIT A SUITOR

This week's Wednesday Wonders is participating in a blog tour for:
To Suit a Suitor
by Paula Kremser McKellips

About the Book:

"She moved closer, holding her breath. She could see the small creature rubbing its front legs together, oblivious to her approach. She desperately wanted to prove to herself that she could catch something.”

Much to her mother’s annoyance, Julia North can’t catch a husband. After what seems like the hundredth lost suitor, Julia leaves London to visit a distant cousin, hoping to forget about husband hunting for a time. She inadvertently finds herself in the society of Henry Chamberlain, the most desirable gentleman in Somersetshire. With every young lady in town competing for his attention, Julia assumes she doesn’t have a chance. What she doesn’t know is that her desire to avoid Henry’s attention may be the very thing that catches it.


     As he approached her, he began smiling in anticipation. He certainly enjoyed reminding her of their first encounter. “Do you not think I’m brave?” he asked by way of greeting.

     She looked confused at his question, then mistrustful, probably aware of what he was leading up to. “I don’t know you well enough to judge, sir,” came her proper reply.

     Her effort to be proper and distant made it almost too easy. “It’s how well I know you that makes me brave. I’ve seen you catch your prey, and yet I’ve just taken my life in my own hands and approached you.”

     Her annoyance was evident, but Henry was happy to observe that she was trying to hide her amusement. He could see her smile in her profile as she turned away from him. He wanted to recapture her attention.

     “I hope you will reward me for my bravery by dancing the next set with me, Miss North.” He waited for her to say yes so he could take her hand and lead her to the floor.

     She didn’t answer right away, and he looked down at her in surprise as her eyes darted about the room. With indecision in her countenance she said, “No, thank you, Mr. Chamberlain, I . . . I umm . . .”

     Was she trying to think of an excuse for refusing him? “you . . . what?” He waited expectantly. It was an extremely uncommon thing for him to be turned down—so uncommon that he couldn’t remember a single instance when it had ever happened.

     She finally just shrugged one shoulder and said, “I won’t be dancing with you.”

     His eyes narrowed just a bit as he scrutinized her. “I saw you dance with Alec Hibbert, your first catch of the evening. I assume he didn’t bite?” She gave him a withering look for that comment, which caused him to smile broadly. “So surely it’s safe to dance with me too.”

     He held out his hand to her, feeling quite sure that her unusual reluctance would give way. Instead, she obviously contrived a casual manner and said airily, “No, thank you.”

My Book Review:

This story was a study in personalities and relationships. Set in the Regency period, the rules and expectations of courtship were such that many young women of the ton were taught rigid rules of behavior when courting. Julia, a young woman in her third season follows these rules, but still is repeatedly rejected and wonders why.

The motivation for Julia and her sister to marry anyone suitable regardless of their personal feelings for a prospective spouse is provided by their mother, a widow, who has her own selfish agenda. The younger, Harriet, seems to be more successful, but Julia, to escape repeated failures to attract suitors while not understanding why the men are not interested in her grabs at an opportunity to leave the social scene of London to spend two months with an older cousin in the country. There she encounters a slightly different society, one where the desires of the local young women center on a very handsome man, Henry, who is well aware of how appealing he is to women and has become adept at playing on his appeal while keeping women at a distance.

Henry was an interesting character. Used to women falling all over him, he finds himself dealing with Julia who refuses to make a fool of herself by feeding his ego. He suffers rejection by a woman for the first time. The author did a good job of portraying him and how his experiences had shaped him and influenced his attitudes.

This is an enjoyable clean romance. There is not a lot of action or suspense outside of the romance elements, but the characters are well-developed and their interaction make the story. It prompts me to feel grateful I live where I do and in this period of time.

About the Author:

Paula Kremser focused on a career in science for a few years after graduating from Brigham Young University. Several years later when she moved with her young family to England, Paula seized the opportunity to focus on her love of the Regency Era. The enchantment of the aristocracy and the fascinating stories from every stately home she visits have been both research and inspiration for her first novel, Sophia. Paula lives with her husband and four children in a charming village nestled in the Chiltern hills in Buckinghamshire.
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