Top positive review
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Great re-release of two old favourites
on 24 January 2012
The two stories are slightly connected - part of a 'series' of four books concerning a group of friends with some characters in common. Each book stands on its own perfectly well.
The Plumed Bonnet - 5 stars
The Duke of Bridgewater is bored and cynical. An apparently cold, reserved, very upright and dignified gentleman, he always behaves correctly. When he comes across Stephanie Gray wearing a very gaudy bonnet in some distress by the roadside he offers to take her up in his carriage. In fact she is a well brought up vicar's daughter who has been robbed of her money and is in dire need of rescue. After a very profound misunderstanding the Duke is eventually obliged to offer her marriage and Stephanie in mistaken admiration and gratitude tries to turn herself into the perfect future Duchess. Whilst he desperately craves her warm spontaneity and passion for himself, she tries to suppress her own personality thinking he disapproves of her behaviour. The story tells how this misapprehension is gradually unravelled as they learn to know each other better during the first difficult weeks of their marriage.
Its a lovely story, lots of character development, plenty of sensual content, very well done and in context - so their first night of marriage is perfectly and realistically described as an awkward encounter, no simultaneous fireworks here but it gets better! By the end both of them have lost their inhibitions with each other and can be themselves. Its a lovely and moving ending. A very satifying read and highly recommended.
The Famous Heroine (4 stars) is a much lighter tale - more of a comedy romance. Cora and Francis Kneller marry for all of the wrong reasons. He's been badly disappointed in love (part of this story is told in Lord Carew's Bride)and he's so flamboyant she thinks his interests lie elsewhere. He's kind to her when she flounders somewhat in high society so they become friends, are caught in a compromising situation and marry. She's described as quite a loud, tall, clumsy woman so on the surface a total mismatch for Francis who is immaculately dressed, perfectly mannered, elegant and charming but they laugh together and over the weeks of their marriage each comes to realise the others worth. Also a charming story if a little less deep and intense than the Plumed Bonnet.
Quite a few characters from the two connected books appear - the Marquess and Marchioness of Carew (Lord Carew's Bride)and Lord and Lady Thornhill (Dark Angel).