Saturday, March 23, 2013

New Review: Virginia Henley’s THE IRISH DUKE – Delightful Late Regency Era Romance

Ever since James Hamilton, the Irish Marquis of Abercorn was 9 and Lady Louisa, the daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford, was 7, James has wanted to marry her. She turned him down then (1819), and now that she is 19 and on the marriage block (1830), nothing has changed. Lady Louisa dreams of a life as a dancer, a life she can never have as a duke’s daughter, but in no event does she want to wed. Still, her beauty and her virtue attract all the ton’s would be suitors. But James is not worried. What he wants, he gets.

Meanwhile the beautiful virtuous Louisa has a sister, Georgy, who is quite the opposite: a selfish, whiny tart, she is plain and promiscuous. Georgy manages, unsurprisingly, to get pregnant, and the ever-protective Louisa allows their mother to think the miscarriage is Louisa’s. (I wanted to slap Georgy for saying nothing, and slap Louisa for taking a fall she did not need to take—it was only their mother involved after all!) Their mother the duchess assumes, of course, that James is the father of the miscarried child and forces a marriage to Louisa—all the while Georgy and Louisa say nothing. James now believes Louisa is not the virtuous woman he thought she was and their relationship quickly deteriorates. (I must say, that whole scenario was a bit hard to believe.)

Henley used both real life and fictional characters in this period story. (The real Lady Louisa is pictured at left.) 

The cast was so large I sometimes found it difficult to hold them all in my head (especially since some have the same name which Henley could hardly avoid since they are real persons). The facts roll out furiously and one has to have a good memory to remember them. Still, the story held my interest and I wanted to hang in there to see how it ended--and I did! I loved that this was a fictional account of the love between two historical people who were married for over 50 years. Lady Louisa lived to be 93.

It’s quite different from Henley’s more serious historical romances (which I have raved about on this blog), but if you like lighter Regency era fare, you will enjoy it.

This is part of Henley’s Peers of the Realm Series:

THE DECADENT DUKE (2008) – Romantic Times’ British Isle-Set Romance Nominee
THE IRISH DUKE (2010) – Romantic Times’ Historical Fiction Nominee
THE DARK EARL (2011) – Romantic Times’ British Isle-Set Romance Nominee

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