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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 February 2012
This book kicks off the "Six Sisters" series of humorous Regency romances, each of which has as its central character one of the six daughters of the Reverend Armitage, a warm-hearted but reprobate "squarson" (a word formed by combining squire and parson, which was a nickname used at the time for a vicar who acted more like a local dignitary than a man of God.) The Reverend Armitage would much rather hunt or enjoy himself than preach or look after his parishioners.

But by the winter of 1811, when this book starts, this behaviour combined with several bad harvests in the two farms which he owns, have left him in severe financial difficulties. So he decides that the eldest of his six daughters, Minerva, must rescue the family fortunes by making a rich marriage. This book tells the story of how Minerva, who is very beautiful (which was an asset on the marriage market), highly intelligent (which wasn't) and has a strong propensity for saying exactly what she thinks (which is disastrous) eventually does find a husband, but with plenty of amusing upsets along the way.

The full sequence of titles in "The Six Sisters" series is:

1) This book, "Minerva"
2) The Taming of Annabelle (The Six Sisters Series)
3) Deirdre and Desire (The Six Sisters Series)
4) Daphne (The Six Sisters Series)
5) Diana the Huntress (The Six Sisters Series)
6) Frederica in Fashion (The Six Sisters Series)

There is more than a little character development through the series, so although the books can stand on their own they are best read in the above order, starting with this one.

The author is a prolific writer of detective stories, including the Hamish MacBeth and Agatha Raisin books, and also of regency romances. Up to now she has usually published the former as M.C. Beaton and the latter as Marion Chesney, and this series was originally published under that second pen-name, but it has now been republished under the "M.C. Beaton" label, so to speak.

This was the first of her books which I ever read (many years ago now), and probably the one which gave me most pleasure. The author's romance novels vary considerably in sophistication: even her simplest ones are at least slightly more challenging than most of the trashy regency romances on the market, while her best romances - of which this is one - are considerably better than the average for the genre but still a rung downmarket from Georgette Heyer or several rungs down from Jane Austen.

The story nevertheless includes most of the classic Regency Romance cliches. The naive, headstrong young heroine who meets an imposing but sinister man with whom she initially gets off entirely on the wrong foot, but who usually turns out to be the hero; the snobbish wealthy parents of one partner in the romance; the proud but penniless aristocrats; the heroine's scheming rival; servants with a heart of gold; a villain hiding behind a mask of respectability; various social successes and disasters in front of the 'ton' (high society) at formal balls; the heroine makes a complete fool of herself and nearly gets ruined/elopes/is dramatically abducted but is rescued by the hero, etc, etc, etc ...

Two things lift this book above the general run of regency romances. The first is that it does not take itself too seriously and has some good use of humour. The second is that where Beaton gives her sympathetic characters views or attitudes which are essential to keep the regard of modern readers but which were by no means universal at the time, such as a belief in education for women or opposition to slavery, she is open about the fact.

For example, the Armitage family do have a horror of slavery. The slave trade was made illegal in 1807 precisely because there really were people in George III's Britain who disapproved of this immoral trade so strongly as to want it banned even though it was then highly lucrative, but their view was by no means unanimous. Chesney explains this, adds why the heroine and her sisters were among those who did despise slavers, and integrates it well into the story.

This is one of many little nuggets of real historical information which, as with many of her novels, Beaton throws in throughout the story. Some readers will enjoy these: in some of tthe other books other readers may find them poorly integrated into the narrative and that they can come over as lecturing. I didn't have that problem with "Minerva."

Bottom line, if you have read and enjoyed any of the other romances which Beaton published as Marion Chesney, such as the "Daughters of Mannerling," "A House for the Season" or "Poor Relation" series, you will very probably like this one. It is definately a step up from the "School for Manners" or "Travelling Matchmaker" books, or from the majority of modern books in the genre.
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Charles Armitage - rural vicar and hunting fanatic - has six daughters and two sons, an invalid wife and not very much money. He hits on the idea of launching his oldest daughter, Minerva, at the next London season in the hope that she will find a rich husband and repair the family's fortines.

Minerva is not that keen on the idea because she finds satisfaction in looking after the family, helping her father's parishioners and writing his sermons. In a nutshell, Minerva is a bit of a prig. As well as being a bit sanctimonious Minerva has many endearing qualities including a tendency to being accident prone.

Her launch into society is almost scuppered by her tendency to say exactly what she is thinking rather than the polite white lies which are expected of her. I really enjoyed reading this story and laughed out loud at the antics of some of Minerva's would-be suitors. The hero is interesting with a mixture of good and bad qualities and Lady Godolphin - Minerva's chaperone - is suitably vulgar and worldly-wise. Even her father shows himself to be humane and caring - as well as spendthrift. Minerva's sisters exhibit a realistic mixture of sibling rivalries and sisterly love and support.

I read this book at a sitting and immediately started on the second one The Taming of Annabelle (The Six Sisters Series) If you want some light reading and enjoyed this author's Travelling Matchmaker series then you will probably enjoy this book. It is well written and shows an excellent knowledge of the Regency period and life in high society. It is the first in the Six Sisters series.
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'Being the First Volume of the Six Sisters,' this is the first book in a series of Regency romances concerning the Armitage family. The Reverend Charles Armitage is the vicar of St Charles and St Jude, in the country parish of Hopeworth. His problem is that he has a love of hunting that is proving rather expensive and he has six daughters and two sons to provide for. His twin sons, Peregrine and James, are now coming to the age when he needs to consider their education, but that costs money. When his brother, Sir Edwin Armitage, refuses to help - and selling one of his hunters is simply not an option - he turns to his eldest daughter Minerva for help. Priggish Minerva is the eldest daughter, who runs the household and helps her father with his parish work, but there is nothing for it - she must go to London and find a husband in the season. In other words, her father needs money and she must marry it.

M C Beaton is a very accomplished writer and, although this is not great literature, she peoples her novels with interesting characters and they are always deftly plotted. You feel you are in the hands of a master, as she introduces the racy Lady Godolphin, who agrees to pay for Minerva's season, so she can 'nail a rich husband.' This is a matter that will prove extremely difficult, as Minerva is more used to parish visiting than flirting and has a terrible urge to be honest with people that she meets. There are some highly unsuitable rakes and, of course, we need a hero. He goes by the name of Lord Sylvester Comfrey, son of the Duke of Allsbury. Also,there is an interesting side story concerning the second sister, Annabelle, and an excellent twist at the end of the book that will be sure to make you want to read on. This is great fun, a light, fun read which is slightly daring in places and cleverly written.
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on 20 June 2012
I'm now on number five of this Georgette Heyer meets Agatha Raisin series. They are funny, frivolous and predictable but incredibly moreish. This first one has the heroine struggling to keep her moral standards and sense of decorum in the face of her own growing passion and engaged sensibilities. This is a wonderful, humorous tongue in cheek look at Regency society with a large dollop of romance thrown in. I thoroughly recommend it for its feel good factor. I've been reading them back to back and will be sorry when i finish the last one.
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on 7 June 2012
This is the first in MC Beaton's Six Sister Series and starts with Minerva, the oldest of the Armitage sisters. The Rev Charles Armitage has fallen on hard times, and decides that he needs to marry off Minerva to someone rich so that he can get some money. Minerva is a serious, helpful girl and the family will miss her as she gets sent to stay with a family friend, Lady Godolphin for the London Season. This is a sweet, funny book, it's not tremendously long, but it's a great start to a series which brings us engaging quirky characters and a nice slice of regency and romance. Some of the characters are fabulous; The Rev Charles is a bit of an old lech and not very Godly, but he's a fun character. Lady Godolphin is great, full of one liners and very calculating. Minerva is a sweetheart, but she hasn't quite learnt how to be tactful, and her honesty gets her in trouble a few times. The Hero is dashing and suave, and he sets out to save Minerva from making mistakes by falling for the wrong kind of man. It's a nice book, easily read in a day that will make you smile.
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on 9 January 2013
This is the first in the Six Sixters series and I enjoyed it. I do have to say though that I didn't think it was as good as Hamish MacBeth and Agatha Raisin. It takes alot to beat that.

This starts with Minerva the eldest of eight children who is thrown into the world of seasons and debutantes (which she knows absolutely nothing about), as her father is down on his uppers and wants his youngest two sons to go to Eton. Here Minerva is put under pressure to marry a rich man and answer Daddies financial prayers (seeing as Daddy is a vicar).

Minerva meets alot of men on her way to the altar, some with a sense of adventure, but even more whose motives are far from honourable.

Good book, nice easy read. Would recommend.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 October 2007
This book kicks off a series of six regency romances, each of which has as its central character one of the six daughters of the Reverend Armitage, a warm-hearted but reprobate "squarson" who would rather hunt than preach. It tells the story of the eldest daughter, Minerva.

The full sequence of titles in "The Six Sisters" series is:

1) Minerva
2) The Taming of Annabelle
3) Deirdre and Desire
4) Daphne
5) Diana the Huntress
6) Frederica in Fashion

There is some character development through the series, so although the books can stand on their own they are best read in the above order, starting with this one.

Marion Chesney is a prolific writer of Regency romances: she also writes mystery stories under the name M.C. Beaton.

This was the first of her books which I ever read (some years ago now), and probably the one which gave me most pleasure. Marion Chesney's novels vary considerably in sophistication: even her simplest ones are at least slightly more challenging than most of the trashy regency romances on the market, while her best romances - of which this is one - are considerably better than the average for the genre but still a rung downmarket from Georgette Heyer or several rungs down from Jane Austen.

The story nevertheless includes most of the classic Regency Romance cliches. The naive, headstrong young heroine who meets an imposing but sinister man with whom she initially gets off entirely on the wrong foot, but who usually turns out to be the hero; the snobbish wealthy parents of one partner in the romance; the proud but penniless aristocrats; the heroine's scheming rival; servants with a heart of gold; a villain hiding behind a mask of respectability; various social successes and disasters in front of the 'ton' (high society) at formal balls; the heroine makes a complete fool of herself and nearly gets ruined/elopes/is dramatically abducted but is rescued by the hero, etc, etc, etc ...

Two things lift this book above the general run of regency romances. The first is that it does not take itself too seriously and has some good use of humour. The second is that where Chesney gives her sympathetic characters views or attitudes which are essential to keep the regard of modern readers but which were by no means universal at the time, such as a belief in education for women or opposition to slavery, she is open about the fact. For example, the Armitage family do have a horror of slavery. The slave trade was made illegal in 1807 precisely because there really were people in George III's Britain who disapproved of this immoral trade so strongly as to want it banned even though it was then highly lucrative, but their view was by no means unanimous. Chesney explains this, adds why the heroine and her sisters were among those who did despise slavers, and integrates it well into the story.

This is one of many little nuggets of real historical information which, as with many of her novels, Chesney throws in throughout the story. Some readers will enjoy these: in some of tthe other books other readers may find them poorly integrated into the narrative and that they can come over as lecturing. I didn't have that problem with "Minerva."

Bottom line, if you have read and enjoyed some of Marion Chesney's regency romances such as the "Daughters of Mannerling," "A House for the Season" or "Poor Relation" series, you will very probably like this one. It is definately a step up from the "School for Manners" or "Travelling Matchmaker" books, or from the majority of modern books in the genre.

However, it is still not in the same league as Georgette Heyer, let alone Jane Austen.
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on 25 March 2012
I really enjoyed this book. I was advised by amazon to read it, and after seeing the good reviews I thought I would give it a go, and I was very pleasently surprised! The writing was fast paced, intresting and funny! The characters all were strong and engaging and despite having their rather major flaws, very loveable. The book was different from most of the historical romances I've read in that half the book was taken up in very detailed sex scenes, and it was very refreshing to find an author more focused on the quick plot than how their hero seduced their heroine for the third time. Saying that though there was passion between our two main characters and I enjoyed watching them fall in love with each other.

Definately worth reading, after I finished this I went straight on to the second bookin the series, Taming of Annabelle (Six Sisters 2), and enjoyed that a lot too.
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VINE VOICEon 17 February 2012
A witty, fun Regency romance very much for Heyer fans. Very slightly more daring than Heyer, but still very innocent in comparison to Eoisa James, Jo Beverley, Laurens, Carlyle and the other modern authors who write Regency historicals.

Minerva Armitage, the eldest daughter of a country vicar, who thinks more of his hunting that his sermons, has been sent to London to snare a rich husband with her beauty, in order to repair the family coffers. Unfortunately, although beautiful, Minerva, is far more pious than her father and scandalized by London society. Prim, priggish and pious, Minerva manages to insult the sensibilities of a couple of gentlemen at her first ball with her prim outspokenness and soon finds herself a wallflower and made fun of by the ton. The ton might not mind be made fun of by someone they find fashionable and witty such as Beau Brummell. However, they object when it comes from a nobody of a country miss.

Then a white knight, in the form of Lord Sylvester Comfrey, who Minerva first met with her father, rides to her rescue.

Full use is made of description and Regency cant (slang) etc., and Lady Gadolphin is a comic treat. A good fun book.
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on 26 May 2013
I ordered two books in this series, but I did not like this authors style of writing. I persevered through a few chapters but I did not engage with the main characters and on that basis I did not complete reading this book. I doubt if I will read the second book, as probably the story carries through the series.
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