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And the fairytale retold?

From Cinderella To Countess Book Cover From Cinderella To Countess
(Mills & Boon Historical)
Annie Burrows
Fiction, Historical, Romance
HarperCollins UK
May 28, 2020
368

From Cinderella in the shadows To Countess in the spotlight?

Lady’s companion Eleanor Mitcham longs to escape her unhappy life. Having been told she’s too lowly to speak to Lord Lavenham, Eleanor defiantly accepts his challenge to teach her employer a lesson—by marrying him! He is an eligible earl after all! However, his determinedly cynical view of marriage makes her dissolve their convenient betrothal and flee—leaving the drama of the household behind and Lord Lavenham hot on her heels!

A sweet and sappy romance that lifts the spirit with its daft dowager who has servants who adore her.

And a naive beyond belief heroine, and the cynical hero – who recognised the truth of most of society’s  marriages – that they are purely for gain – wealth or land ,and that after the production of the heir and spare, the two ‘combatants’ need rarely see each other and can continue with their own amusements.

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Mystery Surrounds her like the Night?

The Mysterious Miss Fairchild Book Cover The Mysterious Miss Fairchild
(Mills & Boon Historical)
Sarah Mallory
Fiction
HarperCollins UK
April 30, 2020
368

An accomplished beauty…

But a most unsuitable match!

Natalya Fairchild can’t help but be drawn to Tristan Quintrell, Lord Dalmorren, with his effortless charisma, even if he’s not her intended bridegroom. Tristan is an eligible society catch…whereas Natalya’s unknown heritage could label her ruined! As he helps Natalya investigate her mysterious past, she starts to hope the truth of her conception won’t destroy her prospects…of a life with Tristan!

This was a Regency romance in much of the usual format except for Miss Fairchild herself.
Her education was clearly not that of the usual female of her time - and her reading materials were so limited that she could come to a completely erroneous conclusion. Aided by the type of school she attended and many of its pupils of course.
I’m afraid I had guessed her birth ‘secret’ well before half way through the book and thus she wasn’t quite as mysterious as she could be.
Also, she was too compliant for me. I prefer my heroines to have rather more life in them and to be more rebellious. She was too easy to keep constrained.
Other than that, it was typical of its genre with not enough to warrant to a 4 star rating.

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Steele by name

Claimed By A Steele Book Cover Claimed By A Steele
(Forged of Steele, Book 13)
Brenda Jackson
Fiction
HarperCollins UK, (Mills & Boon Desire)
April 2, 2020
192

Is this playboy ready for the wildest ride of his life? A PR stunt would be good for business so trucking CEO Gannon Steele invites reporter Delphine Ryland to hitch a ride cross-country. But soon the trip turns from strictly business to strictly pleasure, and the consequences might be more than this rough-and-ready bachelor can handle….

Well I thought that these weren’t the first in the series about the Steele family, and checking on Amazon I find that they are books 12 and 13 in the series...
But that in the Kimani imprint (African American novels only) there is a number 89 in the series! So the story goes on...
These 2 novels take on the romances of the 2 youngest of the 6 sons of the family.
Whilst I thought these 2 books were reasonable for their genre, with gentle humour and nice story-telling, I found them rather short. But then if Brenda is turning out the numbers of books she is, she can’t write a longer length novel each time. And it may also be the norm for this imprint.
This left me wanting more depth from the characters and the stories.
Adequate but not exceptional.

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Not so much a Rake – more a Beau

My Fake Rake Book Cover My Fake Rake
(The Union of the Rakes, Book 1)
Eva Leigh
Fiction, romance, historical
HarperCollins UK, Mills and Boon
January 31, 2020
384

Lady Grace Wyatt is content as a wallflower, focusing on scientific pursuits rather than the complications of society matches. But when a handsome, celebrated naturalist returns from abroad, Grace wishes, for once, to be noticed. Her solution: to create the perfect man, to act as her suitor, and help her catch his eye. Grace’s colleague, anthropologist Sebastian Holloway, is just the blank slate she requires.

To further his own research on English society, Sebastian agrees to let Grace transform him from a bespectacled, bookish academic into a dashing—albeit fake—rake. Between secret lessons on how to be a rogue and exaggerated public flirtations, Grace’s feelings for Sebastian grow from friendship into undeniable, inconvenient, real attraction. If only she hadn’t asked him to help her marry someone else…

Sebastian is in love with brilliant, beautiful Grace, but their bargain is complete, and she desires another. Yet when he’s faced with losing her forever, Sebastian will do whatever it takes to tell her the truth, even if it means risking his own future—and his heart.

This is a Regency Romance with a difference.
@ There is plenty of bawdy talk and swearing and sexual escapades occur.
The author does not pretend that all society young women are innocent or
inexperienced.
@ The young women are scientists.
They write papers that are published- though I am not sure how accurate
this is.
@There are mixed races married in respectable’ society. Again, I
would like some evidence.
But there are some excellent academic points made about
hypotheses. That they only stand until there is evidence that
they must change if evidence dictates it. And that our biases
influence our beliefs and how we explore the world and science.
And that people (The author says men) only value what
others possess…

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Mining in Cornwall

The Secrets Of Lord Lynford Book Cover The Secrets Of Lord Lynford
(The Cornish Dukes, Book 1)
Bronwyn Scott
Fiction, (Mills & Boon Historical)
HarperCollins UK
December 26, 2019
368

He’s destined never to marry She might change his mind... Eaton Falmage, Marquess of Lynford, is an expert at distracting himself from the painful truth which means he’ll never wed. Seducing mining widow Eliza Blaxland seems the perfect diversion. Until he learns Eliza guards her heart as fiercely as her hard-won independence. He longs for more, but that would mean confessing his secret…and risk losing her forever!

This is an historical romance but written in a very different style and subject matter.

It does however, reemphasise the issue with marriage and property ownership of the Victorian ages and before. It wasn’t until The Married Women’s Property Act 1870 that women were allowed to keep their earnings rather than hand them over to their husband or father. But this was not enough, so in 1882 The Married Women’s Property Act  was passed and now:

  • A wife could hold her own wages and investments independent from her husband.
  • A wife could inherit up to £200.00 in her own right and keep the money.
  • A wife could keep property inherited from her next of kin as long as it was not a Trust asset.
  • A wife could inherit and hold rented property.
  • Both the husband and wife could be made liable to support their children.

In 1893 an Act was passed that entitled married women the same rights to their property as unmarried – and by the way, this Act also applied to formally engaged couples. There were further Acts of Parliament in 1964 and 1970 to revise the earlier Acts and make them uptodate.

In the Novel, we have a widow who by virtue of the death of her husband and the presents he had gifted her before, had become the majority shareholder in a Mining Corporation and thus Chairman. As you can imagine, this did not sit well with many of the other men on the Board who held shares as they did want to be governed by a woman. They did not believe that women knew enough about business and that their place was in the home having babies. So a power struggle ensued. This was the time when Cornish mining reached its height, before foreign competition depressed the price of copper, and later tin, to a level that made the extraction of Cornish ore unprofitable. The areas of Cornwall around Gwennap and St Day and on the coast around Porthtowan were among the richest mining areas in the world. And copper had been mined and tin traded, in Cornwall since around 2000BC. At its height the Cornish tin mining industry had around 600 steam engines working to pump out the mines (many mines reached under the sea and some went down to great depths). This boom went on until the late1800s as lead was also discovered in these mines and around, but by 1880 the boom was failing and mines began to shut down. [Wikipedia]

In the meantime, we have our Lord who had had measles as a teenager.

It is a rare complication of measles that can cause sterility in males if there is severe testicular inflammation, although sterility is more often caused by mumps of course. So a romance between these two was an issue – firstly she was Trade; secondly she was older than him; and thirdly he believed she would want more children. And our widow was very wary about the prospect of marrying again as then she would lose control of her business and fortune and her daughter’s future.

I thought this was an interesting story told with great style and even though it lacked humour it was rich in snippets about just how the Victorian world was developing in the Sciences and investigations of the natural world. 5

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