Aurelia Amesley, being a twenty-four year old spinster, could decide to climb aboard a hot-air balloon. But she wasn’t prepared for her crash landing onto the estate of the handsome Earl of Ranfield. There was a strong attraction between them-but Aurelia had no dowry and no illusions about marrying the earl. Should she lose her virtue to him-or leave him entirely?
After really like Maggie Mackeever, I decided to try another new author republished in the digital format by Belgrave House. Because I also love the idea of brave Regency characters going up in hot air balloons, I thought this might be a win.
I really liked aspects of the story, but the plot and the characters and I never clicked. One minute the heroine was making strides to be a female aeronaut, and the next minute she was agreeing to goofy romantic plans inspired by melodramatic romance novels. Which describes some of the follies of youth and consistent with a younger heroine, honestly, and will likely resonate with readers in younger, more turbulent identity formation stages of their life. For me, not so much.
I also thought that a lot of the set ups should’ve let to more comedy gold than was delivered, so I was naturally disappointed as I am always on the hunt for the next great Regency comedy (and so are many of you, apparently, as my top 50 funny Regencies maintains its status as the most read post).
The hero is an Earl who is instantly attracted to the vibrant, focused cousin of an old school acquaintance. From that meeting on, he endeavors to meet with her in Town until she delivers a crushing set down. Imagine his surprise, then, when she crashes through his stable while ballooning.
In hindsight, there is not much that stick out about the hero or heroine, or really any of the characters. The felt pretty watered down and tame, when I wanted for them to be bold.
I did read the whole thing, and it had enjoyable moments, although I will not re-read it. I also think Coombs Pykare’s writing style might better resonate with other readers, so if you are looking to try a new clean Regency romance author, you might pick up one of her books. She was most prolific under that pen name in the 80s with a raft of Regencies, so there is a lot to choose from. I am going to try one of her more gothic leaning Regencies (because I am always on the look out for those, too), and see if it is a better fit.
One further note, the book description by Belgrave House is (unsurprisingly, this is a common problem) not accurate. There is no question about whether or not she will lose her virtue. Its a very chaste book.
3 out of 6 Balloons and earls. And more balloons.