Friday, August 20, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: An Eligible Gentleman by Alice Chetwynd Ley

 I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

After my recent spate of serious reading, I needed something light. I picked a Regency Romance from my Netgalley queue: An Eligible Gentleman by Alice Chetwynd Ley.

The Honorable Frederick Eversley is a twenty-six-year-old confirmed bachelor and man-about-town. Good-hearted and certainly no rake, he simply enjoys his life as it is, being wealthy and unencumbered. When his mother asks him to accompany her to his cousins’ house in the country, he acquiesces, but reluctantly. His cousin Thomas is a twenty-three-year-old Mama’s boy. His cousin Phoebe is a lovely young girl who lacks any spirit. Fortunately, the trip is only to last a few days. His mother is going primarily to fetch Phoebe to London for a Season.

Frederick would be even more reluctant if he were aware that his aunt’s purpose in sending her daughter to London was not only to catch her a husband, but specifically to catch him.

Miss Eleanor Denham, Phoebe’s dearest friend and neighbor, is being pursued by Thomas, the Mama’s boy. She considers him a friend but no more. Devoted to Phoebe, she’s sympathetic when she learns Phoebe has no interest in going to London and no interest in Frederick Eversley. Phoebe has formed an attachment to another neighbor, whose title is insufficient in her mother’s eyes.

So, on the basis of a slight acquaintance, Eleanor schemes to make Frederick appear to be a trifler with young lady’s affections, to throw Phoebe’s mother off. The scheme fails, only serving to make Eleanor look bad and to put a wedge between her and Frederick when they might otherwise have been friends.

Off the young folks go to London for a social whirl. Thomas must learn to be more self-sufficient. Phoebe must avoid the attentions of any number of men attracted to her beauty. And (and here is the Romance) Frederick and Eleanor must clear up their misunderstandings and find their way to each other.

Interestingly, as I began the book, I found it to have a noticeably old-fashioned tone. It followed the Regency Romance conventions, but the conversations seemed stilted, the conflict was minimal, and there were no sparks. Reading more about the book, I learned it was a re-release of a novel by a writer popular in the 1960s and 70s.

I’m partial to clean rather than excessively steamy Romance, so I enjoy older Romances (like those of Georgette Heyer.) But here, I found the love story so subdued as to be a bit dull. It was interesting, though, to consider how Regency Romance has changed over the years–and also how it remains the same.

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