The Disadvantaged Gentleman
by Lesley-Anne McLeod
Bennet Kelmarsh is a gentleman by his actions, but not his birth. Rebecca Valence was born a lady, but has behaved in a very unladylike manner. An orphaned child brings them together, and while they fall in love with her, they also fall in love with each other.
But they are intent upon protecting each other--denying their love--believing that their past histories would do each other harm. They each wish to care for the child, however, and that desire drives them further apart. There is no solution which will satisfy everyone; a choice has to be made, no matter how much--or who--it hurts.
The Disadvantaged Gentleman is a regency romance with a hint of humor and more than its share of witty dialogue. The delightfully disaffected and wordly heroine has deep emotions behind the surface. She finds herself attracted to an indeed attentive (and terribly attractive) gentleman. However, he is something of a mystery, and he is far from the perfect man. One must admit there is something terrifically compelling about an "attractive but irritating, domineering and postively puritanical gentleman."
The opening seems very original - the discovery of a child, followed by an effort to help her. Compassion is an important emotion in this tale. The storyline is immediately intriguing. The handsome gentleman is a bit of an enigma, so stern and seemingly untouchable, yet so concerned with the proprieties our heroine feels of little note. The curiosity he engenders in Miss Valance, our haughty and occasionally outrageous heroine, gives us an idea of her softer side.
Dialogue is well done, with clever hints of humor often interspersed. Surprisingly strong characters make up the cast, even some of the more minor roles. Several of the servants have some strong opinions and one maid in particular has interesting interactions with the main character. Settings are straightforward, but thoughtfully described; "The windows opened as doors onto the terrace and provided a view of autumn leaves drifting to a finely scythed lawn beyond the stone promenade." One can easily imagine the sweep of a lady's skirt in the hallways of Greythorn Court. The expression on the coachman's face, the pleasantly English countryside, all can be so easily visualized from Ms. McLeod's mood-evoking descriptions.
There are a couple of editorial slips one will note, but the plot steams the reader right passed them. This has such wonderful and terrifically 'regency' settings and scenes, it is a great fun to read and I am sure, will be fun to re-read. (Can't wait to start it again!)
Reviewed by: Snapdragon