Review of “The Artful Match” (London Beginnings #3) by Jennifer Delamere

Delamere, Jennifer. The Artful Match. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2019.

Paperback | $14.99 USD | ISBN-13: 978-0764219221 | 361 pages | Victorian Romance/Christian Fiction

4.5 stars

I received a copy from the author in exchange for a fair review.

The Artful Match is a delightful conclusion to a wonderful series. Both upon reading the open-ending conclusion of the prior book and reading the prologue to this one, I wondered how Jennifer Delamere would tie it all together, given this book was about Cara, and Julia was the one making the big revelations in both the previous book and the prologue. However, she did it well, and it met my expectations. That being said, while I do recommend only reading this after having read the other two, as in addition to the resolution to this over-arching plot element, there are things that do make more sense after reading the other two.

As for the story as its own entity, I enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure what to think of Cara, given that she kind of gave me the impression of being a bit immature in the prior books, but I ended up really liking her portrayal as being more idealistic, which is in keeping with what I saw of her in the previous books. And I love how she was able to form a connection with the orphaned Amelia, due to the loss or absence of one’s parents.

I also really liked Henry. I admit I was a bit disappointed to see an aristocratic hero after the prior two having heroes from different levels of society, especially since secular romance is full of aristocrats. However, I did warm to him as the story went on, especially as he is battling between doing what his mother wants and risking it all to follow his heart as he did once before. And while these aren’t unique concepts to historical romance’s aristocrats, they are common themes for an aristocratic character, and I feel that Delamere did them beautifully.

But the best part of the book for me was Langham, and I actually want him to get his own book, even though there are hints that he is somewhat settled into a romantic situation at the end. While I don’t like the out-and-out scoundrel, I have a soft spot for the rake who has indulged a bit too much and made a few stumbles, trying to do better even when those close to him think the worst of him. I love that he starts off looking like a hopeless case, and by the end, is someone with renewed faith and commitment to his vocation.

I really enjoyed this book and series, and hope this isn’t the last I’ve seen of these characters. I would recommend this to fans of slow-burning historical romance.

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Review of “The Heart’s Appeal” (London Beginnings #2) by Jennifer Delamere

Delamere, Jennifer. The Heart’s Appeal. Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2018. ISBN-13: 978-0-7642-1921-4. $14.99 USD. 

5 stars

I received this book from the author/publisher in exchange for a fair review. All opinions are my own.

After falling in love with the first book in Jennifer Delamere’s London Beginnings series, I could not wait to read the next one. And this one is just as wonderful and rich with historical detail and heartwarming character growth as the first.

Through Julia and the other women at the London School of Medicine for Women, we see the transforming landscape of women’s rights in a still-patriarchal world. We see Julia and the other women reach stumbling blocks as there are men who don’t believe women are capable or should be practicing medicine, but she feels that it is her purpose in life to do so, and she never gives up on this dream, even amid setbacks.

Michael is a great match for her in terms of seeing her worth and that women are able to do more than what society expects of them. However, he finds himself caught between what everyone else expects and what he really wants for himself. And through exploring his life and his reasons for making certain choices, I love that his family was so fleshed out as well, due to the hardships they have faced and sacrifices they have made.

Something I also enjoyed was building on the mystery of the Bernay sisters’ father, and what actually happened to him. As the story ends with the major plot threads of what happened to him but with no answer as to why he really left, including a cliffhanger ending, I hope that this is something that gets explored further in the next book, especially if it follows Caroline “Cara,” as she is the one who always had a sense that what they’d been told wasn’t the truth.

 

Review of “A Bride for the Season” (Love’s Grace #3) by Jennifer Delamere

Delamere, Jennifer. A Bride for the Season. New York: Forever, 2014. ISBN-13: 978-1-4555-1891-3. Print List Price: $8.00.

4.5 stars

James is probably one of my favorite characters from this series, and I couldn’t wait for it to be his turn to find romance, and even without looking ahead to the blurbs, Delamere makes it very obvious from book one that she has something in the works for him and Lucinda, even if they don’t know it yet.

Upon getting to know James, my fondness for him did not diminish, though I was surprised given his happy-go-lucky, and often immature, demeanor, to find out that he confirms his age to be thirty-seven (he indicates he was born in July 1816, and the story begins in July 1853).

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Lucinda, but I quickly came to identify with her, due to her awkwardness in society and her love of books and concern for the less fortunate. I also love that she and James are able to bond over photography, and reading about the process that went into taking a photograph back then fascinated me.

The bride-swap that occurs at the end was something I expected, almost as soon as James approached Daniel about courting Lucinda, but the way James and Daniel end up confessing their love was a surprise, and a delightful one, as someone who did a bit of Shakespeare in high school. And while I did want to throw Emily off a cliff (or a number of other “accidental” fatalities) I was happy to see it work out the way it did.

 

Review of “A Lady Most Lovely” (Love’s Grace #2) by Jennifer Delamere

Delamere, Jennifer. A Lady Most Lovely. New York: Forever, 2013. ISBN-13: 978-1-4555-1896-8. Print List Price: $8.00

3 stars

After thoroughly enjoying the first installment of this trilogy, as well as her latest release, I decided to order the other two in the series. And , while I did enjoy this one, and it was a good story, I felt that it wasn’t quite up to par with An Heiress at Heart. 

Tom is a great hero, and very much representative of the times he was living in, where working class people found success, while many of the “old-moneyed” and titled folks simultaneously disdained them and came to see the benefits of marrying them to save their declining estates or cover their debts. We also see especially at the beginning, that he often lets his impulses get him into trouble, such as starting a physical altercation with someone at his own wedding without thinking about how that will be perceived by others in society.

I didn’t dislike Margaret, but I had a hard time finding anything likable or memorable about her, aside from the fact that she’s supposedly beautiful. She does grow up a bit by the end, but I didn’t really understand why Tom ended up falling in love with her.

The plot also felt a bit too easily wrapped up. I expected Denault and/or Spencer to pose more of a threat, especially when they are seen together at the wedding, but the most threatening it gets is that all of Tom’s and his sister’s secrets are exposed, and there isn’t a climactic confrontation.

But I was glad to see that Geoffrey and Lizzie are happy, and that Lizzie gives birth partway through the book. Plus, James continues to be an affable rake, generating a little too much excitement on my part to read his book.

 

Review of “The Captain’s Daughter” by Jennifer Delamere

–elamere, Jennifer. The Captain’s Daughter. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2017. ISBN-13: 978-0-7642-1920-7. Print List Price: $14.99.

5 stars

I won this book in a contest from the publisher, and I decided to post a review with my thoughts on it, since I loved one of Jennifer Delamere’s previous books, published with mass market publisher Forever/Grand Central Publishing.

And this is a wonderful book. I love stories that feature working class heroes and heroines, as well as narratives that incorporate real historical events, and this has both, as the penniless Rosalyn and injured army sergeant Nate both find themselves working as part of the crew for the Gilbert and Sullivan play, HMS Pinafore. However, contrary to how the theatre is portrayed in many other historical novels, many of the characters view this is honest work and aren’t nearly as scandalous as the stereotypical actors and actresses of the day.

The one glaring exception is Tony, the rogue/rake/scoundrel, whose flirting with Rosalyn is not as innocent as she initially believes. There is actually a moment in the book where another minor character says that the girls always seem to go for the rogues, and while he doesn’t respond in his mind he thinks that this had not up to this point been the case with women he knew. I found this amusing, because of the frequency of the “redeemed rogue” in historical romance.

As for the romance itself, it does happen slowly, with the characters not getting together until the end, when they’ve come to an accord as to their plans for the immediate future. However, the tension between them is believable, and the payoff is ultimately rewarding.

The secondary characters are equally interesting, especially Rosalyn’s sister Julia, who is on the cusp of attending the London School of Medicine for Women, and will be the focus of the next book in the series. I would also love to see more of either Jessie or Lilly, as their own struggles were alluded to, but not fully discussed, and I would like them to find lasting love.

Review of “An Heiress at Heart” (Love’s Grace #1) by Jennifer Delamere

Delamere, Jennifer. An Heiress at Heart. New York: Forever, 2012. ISBN-13: 978-1-4555-1893-7. Print List Price: $5.99

5 stars

This is a book that I had wanted to read for a while, in part due to the simple fact that it was an inspirational, clean romance that released with a secular publisher, which I had until recently viewed as a bit of an oxymoron, at least these days. And based on some of the reviews I perused on Goodreads, the author or her agent’s choice to submit this series for publication with Forever/Grand Central Publishing led to this author reaching an audience that she would not have normally reached, those who are used to the often pejoratively named “bodice-ripper.” However, Delamere has since switched to the inspirational publisher Bethany House with her new series, a decision which  might be more ideal for the intended target audience for her books, but again leaves a void for those who are looking for sweet romances at a cheap price in mass-market paperback.

As for the story itself, I adored it. Lizzie is a wonderful heroine, who despite her past mistakes, has a good heart. All she really wants is to have a family, since her indiscretion separated her from parents when she had to flee to Australia, and they have since died. But what really won me over was the hero. For a start, I think we need more clergymen heroes in romance, as well as more baron heroes, and he is both. But more than that, he is an honorable man who “refused to take up the dissolute and careless lifestyle that many of his peers were living.” (48)

It seems like way too many historical romances present the idea that a dangerous rake can be reformed, but this book is more realistic in the fact that that is rarely the case. James is a rake, but he is a charming one with at least some semblance of a moral code. Meanwhile, we have his old friend, Freddie, who is described as “ungentlemanly and dangerous,” (188) and meets a bad fate in the end, due in part due to this excessive living.