Kelly, Carla. Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career. 1992. Springville, UT: Sweetwater Books, 2013. ISBN-13: 978-1-46211210-4. $8.99 USD.
On occasion, when I found myself being overwhelmed by the common trends of overly steamy, overly ton-focused Regency romances, I have sought out an alternative in the classic traditional Regency, and I have long heard that Carla Kelly is one of the best of the traditional Regency authors. And while this book definitely has its flaws, it is a wonderful book that has a lot of humor and very minimal angst.
Ellen Grimsley is one of those heroines who is ahead of their time, but she doesn’t feel like an anachronism. I like that the book shows her growth as someone who longs for more than marriage and children, and comes to see that she has found someone who can give her both. I was very confused as two how much of the latter half played out, however. I did understand her motivations, but I felt it was a bit odd that even though she was obviously falling in love with him, she still had him proposing every day.
James Gatewood, Lord Chesney is just the kind of hero I like. I hate the aristocrat who is so full of his own importance, and makes his living doing the typical things of his era, like gambling and wenching. While it is historically accurate, it is much more fun to read about heroes who buck convention. James is someone who is completely uncomfortable in his role as a lord, and more well-suited to scholarly pursuits.
And together, these two are absolutely adorable. While there are some moments that are questionable in terms of the standards of the time (like kissing when there is no official agreement between them), but they are ultimately a well-matched pair, who I have no doubt about receiving their happy ending.
The supporting cast is equally fun, and I almost wish that there were more books about them. While I did not like the parents for most of the book, I like how they were very true to what parents were like at the time, enforcing their own expectations on their children, even if their children are completely ill-suited to the lives they have planned out.