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Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Dance of Manners by Cynthia Breeding, Kristi Ahlers, Gerri Bowen, Susan Flanders, Erin E.M. Hatton

A Dance of Manners: Regency Romance Anthology by Cynthia Breeding, Kristi Ahlers, Gerri Bowen, Susan Flanders, Erin E.M. Hatton
Publisher: Highland Press Publishing
Genre: Historical / Regency
Length: Full (246 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

"Enchanted Journey" by Cynthia Breeding
Attending a Regency ball by a group of actors is just what American Ashley Bouvier needs to get over her messy divorce from a cheating husband. She is intrigued by the gorgeous, dark-haired Andrew Colton, Earl of Tiverton.

"Wishes In April" by Kristi Ahlers
American-born Cassandra Davenport feels a total failure at fitting in with London's ton. Yet when she meets James, the dashing Duke of Sandringham, her heart flutters and heat sears through her veins.

"A Passage To Summer" by Gerri Bowen
When the normally formal and proper Earl of Wickerdun enters an enchanted forest, his world turns upside down. Songs from wood nymphs, and an aqua-eyed faery make him think he's on his way to Bedlam.

"The Farmer's Son" by Erin E.M. Hatton
Lady Emily Spencer comes into an inheritance of a country estate as well as a sizable dowry. She is elated when the most sought-after bachelor of the Season offers for her hand. Yet, a farmer's son makes her heart race.

"Royal Watercolors" by Susan Flanders
After finishing an art lesson with young Princess Victoria, Lady Kitty is driven home by a handsome coachman who mesmerizes her with his quick, easy grin and unusual lavender eyes.
These tantalizing Regency tales charm, tease, intrigue, titillate, and impart a touch of history. The five authors entertain with a beguiling variety of stories.

“Enchanted Journey” by Cynthia Breeding transports divorcee, Ashley Bouvier, an emotionally bankrupt high school history teacher, from the 21st century to the early 19th century. There she meets Andrew Colton, Earl of Tiverton at a classic Regency ball. My, what a balm for her wounded self-esteem!

Soon Ashley hears whispers about the possibility of her being an American spy. Unknowingly she’s put at risk by thwarting important people’s plans when Andrew pursues her rather than Lady Felice. At one time, she wished for a chance to be a part of this intriguing society, now she tells herself, “Be careful what you wish for”. While Andrew makes arrangements to protect her from harm, an unexpected happening takes place changing everything.

A Celtic legend about Arawen, the god of the other world”, his white horses and white dog with red eyes and ears add a magical touch to this love that reaches across the centuries. Not until Ashley wakes up back in the 21st century does she realize just how much the legend has changed to her life.

“The Farmer’s Son” by Erin E. M. Hatton
Prissy, pretty Ellen Spencer, reared in the true traditions of Regency mores, feels so magnanimous when she befriends the country folks near the estate her father recently inherited. Seventeen years old and totally wrapped up in her plans for her London Season and catching Sir Charles Findley, the most eligible bachelor of the Season, she is rather hateful to the farmer’s son Rodrick Benton, even though she is drawn to his quiet voice and gentle manner.

Ellen goes to London with great expectations but, even though Sir Charles pays her court, she discovers he leads a double life. More than that, she learns Rodrick has a home in Mayfair and belongs to Brooke’s club in London. In her distress about her poor judgment she declares, “Rodrick stole every joy from her life”.

Ellen’s growing up and Rodrick’s patience and pursuit of his love makes super good reading. Erin E. M. Hatton uses brief but revealing phases making this an irresistible story.

“The Passage of Summer” by Gerri Bowen
Love this story! It is full of humor, joy, and a touch of magic that just might come from the dram of fairy blood in Megara and Wickerdun’s veins. Do the singing wood nymphs know?

Megara’s whimsy, beauty, quicksilver mind, wit, and sense of self-worth are characteristics that lure Clarence William Marshall DeBohem Wickerdun to recognize his true self rather than becoming vicious and vengeful, a twisted sol bedeviled by his demons like his father had been.

Twenty-four year old Megara, to her aunt’s delight, goes to London for the Season where Wickerdun returns refreshed and ready to embrace life.

Gerri Bowen’s ability to tell much about a character in a few words gives even the minor characters distinct personalities that bring the story to life. Thomas, the Butler, Miss Littlepond, and Ardmoor are great examples. They add humor and insight that gives the story texture not always seen in short stories.

A lovely love story!

“Royal Watercolors” by Susan Flanders
Mistaken identities in the Regency era often stir up quite a storm especially when nobility is mistaken for one of the working class.

Lady Kitty, daughter in a happy, affluent home, expects to soon become the wife to the son of the Earl of Breyton and to one day be the mistress of Nebry Castle. But at present, she gives art lessons to Princess Victoria at Kensington palace and finds herself drawn to Grey, the coachman who gives her transport. She cries about not being able to have him because of the class difference, but her heart doesn’t give up.

Grey bides his time and woos Kitty in his own special way.

This story, sprinkled with historical facts and undergirded with the hint of political intrigues is predictable but still a delight to read.

Susan Flanders’ writing style entices with descriptions that quicken the senses.

“Wishes In April” by Kristi Ahlers
Cassandra from Charleston, South Carolina cringes at all the rules in England’s Regency society where she seems a constant embarrassment to Aunt Gertrude and Cousin Sara.

When James, the Duke of Sandringham, waltzes with Cassie rather than Sara, Cassie is in trouble with a capital T. Aunt Gertrude is determined James will be Sara’s regardless of the cost.
The reader has a front row seat as James literally rides to the rescue of the woman he loves, foiling wicking intentions again and again as he woos his American darling that excites him physical, emotionally, and mentally. He knows she is a prize to gain, a prize he will never grow weary of. He feels as if “He’d walked through an enchanted cloud” when he is with Cassie.

“Wishes In April” is a terrific story full of social machinations. Yet, love slips in on cat-like feet, makes its ways stealthily through the tangle of deceits, and glides into worthy hearts to settles down for life.

This collection of Regency stories can be enjoyed again and again—a delightful addition to one’s book self.