I recently discovered some delightful historical romance novelists, courtesy of the Surrey Public Library. Here are two authors who brightened some recent wintry hours for me.
Katherine Reay writes modern romances that also step back into history, often inspired by Jane Austen. The Austen Escape has modern-day heroine, Mary, travelling to Bath, England, for a retreat where all things Austen are provided, including period costumes in a lush, Pemberley-esque countryside setting. Mary’s work as an engineer and “gizmo” developer is a strong contrast to older ways.
Romance sizzles from the second and third sentence: “The world stilled. It wasn’t the first time I wondered how one voice, one presence, could quicken the air and simultaneously stop all motion.” And so we are introduced to Nathan, the one who others can see is smitten, but Mary is somewhat blind to. Her conflict with a new boss at work, another conflict with her best friend, and the mental illness when her friend confuses past and present, all provide many layers that keep you turning pages. This is my first novel of Reay’s, but her fifth, and I look forward to reading more.
Grace Burrowes is another new favourite historical romance writer. She won the RT Reviewer’s Choice Award for her 2011 novel, Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish. Fun and love abound in this novel centring around a child newly abandoned by his teen mom. Vim knows just what to do to soothe the crying baby and becomes entwined in baby care, enjoying the hospitality of the mysterious Sophie, left on her own in the huge manor house. While they fall into a peaceful rhythm of domesticity around the happy baby, both hide who they really are. Snowbound scenes abound, as Vim keeps trying to leave against the inclinations of his heart. Sophie’s protective brothers begin to take a role and their mischievous scheming plays a big part in the couple’s eventual happiness.
Burrowes’ 2017 novel, Too Scot to Handle, is another involving children in need. Lord Colin sees that the boys at an orphans’ home need more fresh air and stable-mucking than Latin declensions and caning. He joins Anwen Windham in a fundraising project, while struggling for acceptance into London society. In his efforts, he falls into the wily path of Win Montague, a “gentleman” whose efforts to make his path smooth are loaded with self-interest. The dire straits of the orphan home provide suspense as we get to know the street-skilled boys and they are recruited to help solve a mystery. Lord Colin’s dedication to the boys is much admired by their champion, Anwen, who quickly comes to appreciate his other attractive qualities.
Burrowes has worked (and may still be working) in child protection law and rides horses for fun, both topics which add excellent dimension to her writing. She has quite an enormous list of best-sellers that I am working my way through.
- Irene Plett
Details: Katherine Reay, The Austen Escape (2017, HarperCollins, LCCN 2017948841)
Grace Burrowes, Too Scot To Handle (2017, Hachette Book Group, ISBN 9781455569991)
Grace Burrowes, Lady's Sophie's Christmas Wish (2011, Sourcebooks)
Topics: Historical Romance, Jane Austen, Katherine Reay, Grace Burrowes, Surrey Public Library
Irene Plett is a writer, poet and animal lover living in South Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.