Civilizing Frances (The Mad Hatterlys #3)

Civilizing Frances (The Mad Hatterlys #3)

By: Marguerite Butler

(http://www.amazon.com/Marguerite-Butler/e/B004SUR0FG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1)

Musa Publishing October 2011

A regency romance novel review

 

(Reviews of The Mad Hatterlys #1 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/compromising-prudence-the-mad-hatterlys/

And of The Mad Hatterlys #2 here: https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/becoming-mr-brooking-the-mad-hatterlys/)

 

Every girl’s first London season is nerve-wracking.  For a girl raised in the country with the same pursuits and athleticism as five brothers, it’s stifling.  When that country girl is one of the “Mad Hatterlys,” it’s downright disastrous.  Used to going her own way, Frances finds herself both at war with the Duke of Ainsley, and compromised by him.  The scandal must end in her marriage or her exile from society.  A man of honor, Ainsley surrounds Frances with eligible suitors…So why do they constantly seem drawn to each other?

With daggers drawn right from the start, Frances and Ainsley make a stickier pairing that in the previous Hatterly books, with Frances matching her unorthodox ways and physical prowess against the Duke’s authoritative respectability.  Frances acts younger than her years while Ainsley acts older.  The heroine knowing from the start that the hero will have to propose to her wrenches Civilizing Frances out of the usual groove of eccentric heroines paired with eligible bachelors, with side characters twisting this into more of an ensemble story.  The focus on how the main characters grow through their relationships with others, as well as each other, really brings this book to life and invites the reader to care about all these people outside of the love story.

All in all, this is a large caramel pretzel of a book, with a smoothing dose of sweet caramel bringing the expected fluffy finish to an unusually salty and bumpy romance.

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Becoming Mr. Brooking (The Mad Hatterlys)

Becoming Mr. Brooking (The Mad Hatterlys 2)

By: Marguerite Butler

(http://www.amazon.com/Marguerite-Butler/e/B004SUR0FG/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1)

Musa Publishing 2011

A regency romance novel review

 

When Graham Hatterly decides to consider sponsoring Horace Tolliver’s botany expedition, it seems like a simple business arrangement.  Then his secretary Mr. Brooking takes ill and light-spirited Mr. Hatterly decides to travel in his stead.  Undercover, of course.  Hard-pressed to provide for any guest, Edwina Tolliver finds herself saddled with housing and entertaining “Mr. Brooking” throughout a flood.  As Graham learns more about the Tollivers, his own expedition grows into much more than Becoming Mr. Brooking.

This book is like strawberry cheesecake.  It fulfills all the sweet, cheesy expectations of this type of story, yet somehow makes it seem fruity-fresh and organic.  I believe it’s the inherent likability of the two leads.  They are charismatic characters with chemistry who transcend their roles.  Yes, Graham Hatterly is the gadabout playboy, but his issues are treated as real faults, not dramatic allure.  Edwina Tolliver’s different-from-society behavior highlights a character I’d like to befriend, rather than a stereotype or the folly of normal society.  Her temper is particularly admirable.  Their interactions include everything you’d want in awkwardly-close-environment encounters, while progressing in natural ways and for good reasons.

Basically, this is a light, quick read that made me laugh, while the characters made me smile.  I’d like to read it again.  Plus, we spend more time with people from Compromising Prudence (https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2012/09/09/compromising-prudence-the-mad-hatterlys/) in a way that builds on the family dynamics of the “Mad Hatterlys” rather than being simple cameos.  So far, this is a fun family to discover.

Compromising Prudence (The Mad Hatterlys)

Compromising Prudence (The Mad Hatterlys #1)

By: Marguerite Butler

(http://margueritebutler.blogspot.com/)

Aurora Regency (Musa Publishing) 2010

An historical romance fiction review

(Review of The Mad Hatterlys #2 at https://wheresmytower.wordpress.com/2013/06/12/becoming-mr-brooking-the-mad-hatterlys/)

 

When Prudence decides to take control of her own destiny her defiant spirit quickly enmeshes her with strange men, strange places, and more alcohol than is advisable to imbibe.  When her path crosses with bird-loving Charles Hatterly, Prudence finds that compromising may be the key to achieving her new, independent life.  Charles Hatterly is far from used to compromising, but finds himself doing so more and more when it comes to Prudence.  Will their arrangement rescue them both from their family’s censure?  Or will it just lead them into imprudent decisions and compromised positions?

Compromising Prudence is a tuxedo strawberry of a book!  It’s sweet, fresh, and charming, with an orderly outside to complement its natural inner deliciousness.  The rules of society surround Butler’s story, but always come second to the main characters’ personalities.  Prudence is wonderfully strong-willed without becoming the stereotypical headstrong heroine.  Likewise, Charles’ ability to adapt his thinking gives him more maturity than the usual bewildered bachelor.  The emotions of these characters, particularly Prudence, read as very organic and relatable.  Their relationship dynamic is delightful because once they’ve met it arises from simple experience of each other rather than relying on shocking events or societal values.  The lack of melodrama doesn’t dull Butler’s book, but adds extra lightness, making this a quick, easy read for whiling away plane time, car trips, rainy days, or tea time.  But it’s the inherent likability of Charles and Prudence that drives this romance to the level of sweetness that turns Compromising Prudence from plain fruit into tuxedo strawberries.

“Death by Scandal”

Death by Scandal

By: Marguerite Butler

(http://margueritebutler.blogspot.com/)

Aurora Regency (Musa Publishing) 2011

An historical romance review

 

When Lord Westbourne is poisoned at a dashing house party, everyone knows who to blame: the scandalous Lady Calandra who shot her last fiancé.  Unfortunately, the ton have the wrong person and only a small handful of people know it: Arthur, the man who secretly loves Calandra, her best friend Julia, and Lady Calandra herself.  The daunting task of clearing Calandra’s name isn’t made any easier when she claims she had no motive to kill Westbourne because she is engaged to another man.  Can Calandra escape both the law’s noose and the coils of a disastrous engagement?

Butler writes like a country dance, bobbing and sweeping back and forth to keep momentum and intrigue.  It keeps a good pace and builds curiosity for which steps Butler has in store next.  Her characters’ personalities develop more fully in the mind of the reader as they become revealed, rather than truly evolving during the story.  Yet, the dynamics between characters shift in tune with the plot and make these protagonists real.

The plot contains both mystery and romance.  Surprisingly, neither the structure of the crime nor the obstacles within the romance provide the real core of this work.  Death by Scandal is like an inside out cake-there’s a good layer of cake on the outside, but the larger inside is full of frosting.  The issues of discovering the killer and overcoming romantic impediments always seem peripheral to the tumultuous feelings they provoke.  Moreover, problems are resolved more simply here than in similar works.  However, Butler’s writing style keeps things moving so well that it never seems more melodramatic or less interesting.  She sustains the excitement remarkably easily.

Death by Scandal is a lovely quick read for those who truly enjoy the warm side of romance.  For those who prefer the chase in relationships or the detailed part of sleuthing, this book might be a bit too sweet for you.  For those with the romantic sweet tooth, enjoy your caked frosting.