Review of “Misleading Miss Verity” (Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley #3) by Carolyn Miller

Miller, Carolyn. Misleading Miss Verity. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2019.

Paperback | $15.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0825445910 | 342 pages | Christian Fiction/Regency Romance

5 stars

Misleading Miss Verity is a bittersweet goodbye to Carolyn Miller’s Regency Brides world, as it seems she’s going in a new direction with her next book. And as such, I’m glad this is a good book to send the series off on.

This story, like many of her books, is rich in character growth. While it was hard to know what to expect from Verity, given her peripheral role as a side character in her sisters’ books, I liked her emotional journey toward growing in faith in God in a way that didn’t feel forced. I also like that she’s independent minded, and despite initial difficulties, finds someone who respects that.

I also enjoyed seeing Anthony adjusting to his new role of laird of Dungally. I thought it was great to see him apply his desire to help people and undo the legacy of carlessness sowed by the previous laird. I love that he was just a good person, and while there was some misleading going on, it was with good intent.

Like all the Regency Brides books, there is a great sense of place, particularly when the characters are in Scotland. She immerses the reader in the scenery, language, and customs, so it feels like you’re there. She also presents something a little bit closer to her home, with some scenes in New South Wales at the beginning, and I think it’s fascinating to see a writer depict the history of their homeland in one of their books.

This is a great book, and I recommend it to fans of inspirational historical romance.

Review of “Underestimating Miss Cecilia” (Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley #2) by Carolyn Miller

Miller, Carolyn. Underestimating Miss Cecilia. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2019.

Paperback | $15.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0825445903 | 340 pages | Christian Fiction/Regency Romance

3 stars

I found myself rather underwhelmed by Underestimating Miss Cecilia, in comparison to Carolyn Miller’s previous books, which were all solid. There are still some of the recognizable hallmarks of Miller’s previous books that made me enjoy them, in particular her interweaving of historical events to provide greater context for the era. In this case, I loved reading about a hero and heroine who are interested in being more active politically and pushing for social change, whether it be to help the poor throughout England or to stop the prejudice against marginalized groups like the gypsies.

And the setup for the characters wasn’t bad, especially Edward’s. I love when an author can convince me that the hero truly wants to turn over a new leaf and leave his wild ways behind, and that is what she did with Edward. And I loved seeing Cecilia come to harness her inner strength, where she used to be more passive and pining.

But despite it essentially being one of my favorite tropes, friends-to-lovers, I felt like the execution didn’t really work. It could be because I read another book that did the trope of unrequited love between friends so much better recently, so I’m a bit jaded, but I just didn’t believe the love between the two, especially when Edward, after taking her for granted for so long, notices her once something bad happens to her.

I still enjoyed this book for what it is, especially for Miller’s constant focus on building an authentic feeling Regency world. I recommend this book to fans of sweet, spiritually driven (but not overly preachy) Regency romances.

Review of “A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh” (Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley #1) by Carolyn Miller

Miller, Carolyn. A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2019.

Paperback | $15.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0825445897 | 316 pages | Christian Fiction/Regency Romance

4 stars

A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh is a great start to Carolyn Miller’s latest Regency Brides sub-series. And while it’s not my favorite of Miller’s books, it has all the hallmarks of her work, including rich period detail and examination of deeper issues in a historical context.

Caroline and Gideon are both interesting characters. I really enjoyed the exploration of Gideon’s love and science and how he negotiated that alongside his faith, a topic which Miller noted she had in mind when working on the book. And while Caroline was a bit less interesting to me at first, I was somewhat moved by her spiritual growth.

One of my favorite aspects, however, was the subplot around Emma and domestic violence. It’s handled delicately although I did kind of want it to be resolved a bit differently to give her her own story sometime down the road with the person she ended up with, although I understand that it might not work with Miller’s series as outlined, and delaying it to the next one (if another spinoff is in the pipeline once this one finishes) might not work for other reasons.

This is a heartwarming Regency romance, and one that I would recommend to all Regency fans.

Review of “The Making of Mrs. Hale (Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope) by Carolyn Miller

Miller, Carolyn. The Making of Mrs. Hale. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2018. 

Paperback | $15.99 USD |ISBN-13: 978-0825445354 | 336 pages | Christian Fiction/Regency Romance

5 stars

The Making of Mrs. Hale is another wonderful Regency romance by Carolyn Miller, perhaps her best yet for its complexity. It can take a lot to make me root for a hero who is tremendously flawed and has made mistakes the way Thomas Hale has, not to mention keeping me invested in a relationship where the couple don’t spend a lot of page time together physically. But Miller somehow manages to accomplish both of these feats masterfully.

Thomas is a hero who reminds me of what Pride and Prejudice‘s Wickham could have been, had he been a much more selfless person. He has his less-than-honorable moments, for sure, including the inciting incident that precedes this novel, but he almost always tries to conduct himself with the best of intentions, in spite of people thinking the worst of him due to his past behavior.

He is complemented well by Julia, who despite her rash behavior in eloping with him, grows through her experiences as they test the strength of her love for her husband and her capacity to forgive him, in spite of the fact that he abandoned her, albeit unintentionally.

I also enjoyed the elements of suspense threaded throughout the book, and while some of it did feel a little predictable, it worked in relation to providing a believable addition to the conflict for Thomas and Julia to work through.

I would recommend this to fans of Regency romances who want something a little bit different from the norm.

Review of “Miss Serena’s Secret” (Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope #2) by Carolyn Miller

Miller, Carolyn. Miss Serena’s Secret. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2018. 

Paperback | $15.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0825445347 | 343 page | Christian Fiction/Regency Romance

4.5 stars

Miss Serena’s Secret is yet another heartwarming Regency romance by Carolyn Miller. Once again, she excels at crafting a story with believable, sympathetic characters and text that immerses you in the world of Regency England.

Serena is one of those rare heroines who’s a bit younger than your typical romance heroine, and more in line with the age of a young debutante in society of the time. But while some authors go overboard making such characters naive and sometimes a bit TSTL, Serena is a nice breath of fresh air in terms of her maturity, especially considering that Miller has already done the naive, young debutante heroine in The Captivating Lady Charlotte. And through describing how Serena reacts to difficult parts of life,  father’s ruination of them financially and the health issue that, according to the author’s note, is now understood to be abdominal migraines, I could truly understand why she had to be so principled and practical. Harry is also a lovely character, with his wit and charm. And I’m not always a fan of the reformed rake trope, but I felt it was well done here, in terms of him generally trying to be worthy of Serena.

The secondary cast is great. I did feel like Mrs. Milsom was incredibly annoying, and while I understand her purpose in the story in highlighting the Harry’s past, she’s one of those irredeemably terrible characters that I couldn’t figure out why he was ever interested in her. Was she different before? Why can’t more romances have “Other Women” who are perfectly nice, but it just doesn’t work out?

Other than that, this is another solid Regency from Carolyn Miller, and a definite must read for fans of similar authors, like Julie Klassen or Sarah E. Ladd.

Review of “Winning Miss Winthrop” (Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope) by Carolyn Miller

Miller, Carolyn. Winning Miss Winthrop. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2018. 

Paperback | $15.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0825445330 | 356 pages | Christian Fiction/Regency Romance

4.5 stars

While evoking the style of Jane Austen is nothing new for Carolyn Miller, I felt she truly mastered it here, bringing together plot elements from Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, and a dash of Pride and Prejudice, while also telling her own charming and heartwarming Regency tale. There are some shortcomings, but it mostly relates to the choice to have the story take place over such a long period of time, as at times, it does feel like there isn’t a lot going on.

I, however, enjoyed the characters. I truly felt for Catherine and Jonathan, and how the difficult way things ended in the past, and the sudden reversal of fortune for them, have impacted them in the  present. I find it beautiful that Miller puts her heroines through heartache prior to finding their happily-ever-after, and I think Catherine’s pain is the one that I found most moving.

The secondary characters are also wonderful. I cannot wait to see what is in store for both Serena and Julia, especially given the scandal the latter got herself into towards the end of this book and from what I have heard about it. And both of the “mother” characters were wonderfully written, especially Lady Harkness. I really didn’t know what to expect from her, especially considering all the animosity between her and Lady Winthrop, but I especially enjoyed when she and Catherine have a heart-to-heart about the past between her and Jonathan. I can’t wait to see more of her.

Review of “The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey” (Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace #3) by Carolyn Miller

Miller, Carolyn. The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-0-8254-4452-4. $14.99 USD. 

4.5 stars

It can be hard to make an antagonist from a prior book likable, even sympathetic, but Carolyn Miller does just that with The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey. While it was evident in the prior books that a lot of the machinations were due to her mother, I got a greater isense of how her mother’s plans for her and the events of the past two books affected her, to the point of being at her lowest when we meet her in the opening pages of this book. I loved seeing her grow from someone who was lost and didn’t really have a purpose to someone who had a new appreciation for life.

I loved Benjamin as a character almost immediately, because I felt that he loved his family, and he had a great sense of what was the right thing to do, as displayed by his actions in the Navy. And while he is given the cliche reward of title and money at the end, meaning he is a suitable marriage partner for Clara, it is not as important as the fact that they’re both good people who have grown and changed, and love each other.

I must also commend Miller on writing wonderful supporting characters. I was rooting for the romance between Lord Featherington and Tessa to work out, and I’m glad it did, even though it did feel a bit unrealistic for the times.  And as Miller has been compared to Jane Austen (and rightly so), and I feel like the comparison remains justified, with her writing commentary regarding the importance of a person’s character over their material goods, which sets it apart from the many rich, alpha-duke romances on the market today.

 

Review of “The Captivating Lady Charlotte” (Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace #2) by Carolyn Miller

Miller, Carolyn. The Captivating Lady Charlotte. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-0-8254-4451-7. $14.99 USD. 

4 stars

Carolyn Miller’s second book, while not as great as the first, is still a wonderful read in offering flawed, but intriguing characters. , in taking two characters who aren’t that likable on the surface and making you sympathize with them.

In the vein of Austen’s Marianne Dashwood, Charlotte is an immature heroine at the beginning who is absorbed only in what she wants, and is blind to the hero’s good qualities because of her fascination with someone else. But the novel shows her come of age, growing out of her youthful infatuation with a highly unsuitable man and growing to respect and love the Duke of Hartington.

William has his own issues, and there are definitely moments when he doesn’t come off as that sympathetic either, but he is a great match for Charlotte. And while occasionally he can seem a bit self-righteous (not to mention the way this book incorporates the Big Misunderstanding), I did enjoy him as a character. And there is a lovely conversation at one point about his interesting in doing charity with the less fortunate, because it’s the right thing to do as a good Christian, that when juxtaposed with the hedonistic behaviors of the ton, this idea resonates even today.

One thing that did bug me was the constant references to his age, when he is mentioned as being at most thirty years old. I know it was a different time, that a decade older can seem like a lot for a woman of around eighteen or nineteen, and that this was meant to draw comparisons to Marianne’s disparaging of Colonel Brandon, which also seems illogical. While life expectancy in those times wasn’t as long as it is today, considering that men married a bit later than women, and widowers were encouraged to marry again if their wife died, especially if they did not yet have an heir (as is addressed in the book), it did feel a bit odd to have the age gap constantly brought up.

On the topic of children, it is a refreshing that we get to see the realities that women faced, both then and now, when it came to the struggle to have children. So many romances end on a happy note, and if it’s a series, a couple from an earlier book will turn up wrapped in marital and parental bliss. To see an author depict a couple dealing with hardship and having to work through it is incredibly inspirational.

 

Review of “The Elusive Miss Ellison” (Regency Brides: A Legacy of Grace #1) by Carolyn Miller

Miller, Carolyn, The Elusive Miss Ellison. Grand Raprompids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-0-8254-4450-0. $14,99 USD. 

4.5 stars

The Elusive Miss Ellison is a sweet first romance in the tradition of Austen and Heyer. And while Miller does make some allusions to both authors in her basic plot and characterization, there are other ways in which she develops the story to make it stand out in an incredibly popular genre.

Lavinia and Nicholas are both complex, sympathetic characters. And while the story begins with a tragedy in their past that has led to animosity between them, fueled by their differences in station and ideals, you get a sense that they develop an understanding of each other as the story progresses prior to romance even being a consideration, as they both begin to change and develop a greater understanding of each other.

While Miller is a bit inconsistent with some of the intricacies of the aristocratic world (such as forms of address and courtesy titles), she does manage to surprise even a  seasoned Regency reader like myself with a few unexpected historical tidbits.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a great, sweet Regency romance.