Thursday, May 5, 2016
A PROPER ROMANCE: Lord Fenton's Folly by Josi S. Kilpack
ABOUT THE BOOK
Lord Fenton is a gambler, a dandy, and a flirt—and he must marry or else he will be disinherited, stripped of his wealth and his position. He chooses Alice Stanbridge for two simple reasons: he once knew her as a young girl, and she is the least objectionable option available to him.
However, Alice has harbored feelings for Fenton since their first meeting ten years ago, and she believes his proposal is real. When she discovers it is not, she is embarrassed and hurt. However, a match with the most-eligible bachelor in London would secure not only her future but that of her family as well.
Determined to protect herself from making a fool of herself a second time, Alice matches Lord Fenton wit for wit and insult for insult as they move toward a marriage of convenience that is anything but a happy union. Only when faced with family secrets that have shaped Fenton’s life does he let down his guard enough to find room in his heart for Alice. But can Alice risk her heart a second time?
Once again, Kilpack has created a romance that has more depth than most. Her characters feel real with real strengths and weaknesses who make both good and bad decisions and have to live with the consequences. Lord Fenton for the first time in ten years is forced to grow up in order to retain his position as heir to the Earl of Chariton (his father). He even signs a contract agreeing to learn how to manage his property as well as marry. But after ten years of hiding behind his drinking and ridiculous behavior, refusing to let anyone see the real him, Fenton doesn't know how to find a bride. As a result, he takes his mother's advice and proposes to Alice Stanbridge by letter. At first, Alice is thrilled as she remembers the boy she once had a crush on, but when it becomes apparent that he does not care for her and hides behind his drinking and absurd behavior, she puts up walls of her own. With walls firmly in place it appears that all Alice and Fenton are capable of doing is arguing, refusing to let the other in. But when Fenton's mother becomes ill and leaves London with Alice for company things begin to change. And at Foxcroft, Fenton's mother's property, Alice realizes that there is more to the family than she ever imagined. And as Fenton begins to face the consequences of his parents' decisions, he realizes that he just may need Alice more than he would have ever thought.
I found the slow-growing romance here remarkably believable as both Fenton and Alice are forced to deal with the walls that Fenton has put up and doesn't know how to take down. Both are uncertain and want to protect themselves and as a result they shut each other out for quite awhile. The struggles that the characters go through facing both their own poor choices as well as the poor choices of others makes for great character growth, which I always enjoy reading. Not only is this book full of the period details that I so love, but full of characters great and small who shine through so clearly. Kilpack has done a wonderful job creating a clean, thoughtful, brilliant read for those who enjoy not just a romance, but a romance with depth.