Sunday, September 26, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: Miss Lattimore's Letter by Suzanne Allain

Regency Romance author Suzanne Allain (The Celebrated Pedestrian and Mr. Malcolm’s List) has a new novel out: Miss Lattimore’s Letter.

The heroine, Sophronia Lattimore, is a lovely spinster of twenty-eight who has more or less resigned herself to the position of chaperone to her much younger cousin Cecilia. While negotiating the London Season, Sophie accidently overhears an exchange between two young people who seem enamored of one another. However, the lady is putting the gentleman off, despite promises made to one another, because a more elevated suitor is pursuing her. Sophie is dismayed, partly because she is aware that another worthy young lady of her acquaintance is in love with the suitor. She thinks all parties involved are about to make irreparable mistakes. So she writes an anonymous letter to the elevated lord, gently apprising him of the situation.

Her interference gains the hoped for results. The courtships shift back into the correct pairs and happy marriages ensue.

Then Sophie’s identity as the letter writer is leaked. Sophie becomes a minor celebrity and is sought after for her matchmaking skills. One of those who comes to her for advice is Sir Edmund, an extremely handsome, wealthy, eligible bachelor, whose hesitation around women makes no sense. Although she has a crush on him herself, she agrees to help him meet an appropriate wife.

The parties all move on to Bath. Sophie continues in her engaging way to support her friends, deny that she has any skill at matchmaking, and flirt modestly with Sir Edmund. He seems interested in her, but she can’t believe he could possibly want a penniless spinster. He flirts, then backs off, confusing her. Things may well have progressed towards something more consistent, but they are thrown off track when a man from Sophie’s past appears.

When Sophie was eighteen, she’d fallen head over heels for Mr. Maitland, who had pursued her in earnest, giving society the impression they were all but betrothed. Then he abruptly dropped her and married someone else–a woman of fortune. Mr. Maitland is now a widower with two young children. He begins pursuing Sophie again. He is, unfortunately, the most handsome, charming man in Bath, even eclipsing Sir Edmund.

Sophie doesn’t know what to do. Mr. Maitland is courting her openly. Sir Edmund is much more reserved. She’s enjoying the attention and wants to be married. She just doesn’t know if she’ll end up with two proposals or none.

The novel is witty and sweet. The style is a little old-fashioned but also unconventional for newly released Romance. While primarily in the female protagonist’s point of view, we also get a peek inside the heads of Sophie’s cousin and her aunt, who are on journeys of their own. But we don’t get alternating chapters between the female and male protagonists. We see little to none of Sir Edmund’s thoughts, which helps to keep readers guessing (along with Sophie) as to his intentions. Although, given Romance conventions, his thoughts are not that difficult to guess. Nor is the little twist at the end any great surprise, but it’s entertaining nonetheless.

Allain continues to charm with her clean Regency Romances. 

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