Sunday, January 18, 2015

Review: The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane by Elizabeth Boyle

Days upon days filled with rain and then finishing a heavy and disturbing book prior to this one called for lighter fare with a guaranteed happily ever after. Elizabeth Boyle writes charming characters and entertaining situations in her Regency set Rhymes With Love series, the latest of which is The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane. And that was just exactly what the doctor ordered.

Miss Louisa Tempest and her twin sister Lavinia are headed to London from their village of Kempton to have a season sponsored by their godmother, Lady Charleton. Louisa has no interest in tempting fate in the form of the curse against the women of Kempton marrying but her sister wants very much to have a season and so Louisa is determined to support her.  Their visit gets off on the worst possible foot right from the get go. First, Louisa's mangy looking cat, Hannibal, breaks out of his basket and streaks into the house next door to Charleton's. When Louisa goes post haste to retrieve him, she not only finds a path of broken things in his wake, but she encounters the very angry and disheveled Viscount Wakefield who is beyond annoyed that the cat and this miss have disturbed his peace.  Second, she discovers that Lady Charleton has been dead for some time and that the still grieving Lord Charleton had no knowledge of their impending arrival. But he is loathe to turn away the girls because his late wife wanted it and so he arranges to have them brought out anyway to the delight of Lavinia and the consternation of Louisa.

Since Louisa is not interested in the season and all of the fripperies that accompany it, she instead decides to make amends for Hannibal, who continues to make forays over to Wakefield's home. She fires his thieving cook and then hires him a new, much more competent one. Then she delves into his linen closet to organize it. And finally, banned from the house, she tackles the overgrown mess of his garden. Piers, Lord Wakefield, cannot believe the audacity of the meddling woman, finding himself alternately frustrated and attracted to her. He has been a recluse since he came back from the war badly wounded and devastated by the loss of his dear friend but now Louisa's tempting little behind is forcing him to leave his house and quit brooding all the time.

Louisa is a determined character and her intention of making life a little smoother for the gruff and blustering neighbor is sweetly stubborn. She knows her own shortcomings and forgives herself, generally comfortable in her own skin, and she is very good at looking beyond the exterior to see into the heart of a person or creature. Piers is definitely tortured by what he sees as his role in his friend Poldie's death but his innate kindness is still clear. He might shout and fume and insult but that's just a shield for his own hurting heart. The chemistry between Louisa and Piers is good and the plot moves along at a steady clip. The secondary characters help move the story without intruding too much but they remain interesting enough to warrant reading the next in the series. The ending has a few obviously dangling threads that will be picked up in the next book and there was at least one plot thread in the novel that seemed a dropped opportunity here but will hopefully be addressed later. Boyle knows her time period and manages to create likable and realistic characters who deserve the love and happiness that they inevitably find with each other and this reimaging of the Beauty and the Beast tale shows it.

1 comment:

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