Monday, August 15, 2011

Frederica and the Viscountess by Barbara Davies

Publisher:                Bedazzled Ink Publishing

Barbara Davies pays homage to Jane Austen in this story of a sheltered country girl and a worldly, wayward noble woman. 

Frederica Bertram feels it is her duty to walk over to Thornbury Park each day to visit her neighbors and the gentleman who is staying with them.  Everyone expects that there will be a marriage proposal soon and that Frederica will accept.  Her family is in financial difficulties and this marriage could solve their problems.  Frederica isn't excited by the idea, but she is resigned to it until her neighbor's notorious sister, Joanna, Viscountess of Norland, blows into the area.  Joanna's fondness for wild escapades has preceded her, but Frederica quickly realizes that there is more to the woman than her reputation and she soon becomes the reason for Frederica's visits.  Unfortunately, Joanna's friend Lord Peregrine is a total cad and creates an uproar that could ruin the good name of the Bertrams.  As the women dash across England to try and correct the situation, Joanna realizes that this latest adventure may cost her the person she cares about more than anyone. 

The book also contains two short stories about a pirate named Murdering Meg.  Meg is determined to get vengeance on the man who abused her many years before and his disgusting sons.  Her intention is to kidnap the man's daughter Alice who is at the center of his plans.  When they were much younger Alice and Meg were lovers and only the cruelty of Alice's father has kept them apart.  Meg promised she would come back for Alice one day and that is exactly what she intends to do, no matter what the consequences are.

Davies does an excellent job of emulating Austen's style and mannerisms in the story of the viscountess.  The influence of Pride and Prejudice will be obvious to any reader who is familiar with that book.  The nice thing about the book is that Davies stays true to the period in dealing with the love affair between the women.  They're not running around in the early 19th century pretending that no one would have a problem with a lesbian couple.  Instead, they come to an accommodation that allows them to disguise their relationship in a perfectly acceptable manner.  A method that was probably actually used by women of that period.  The story could have been longer and not have such a rushed ending, but overall it's a pleasant tale.  The stories of Murdering Meg are just good pirate romps and make nice companion pieces to the larger story.

This is a fun book to read, especially for fans of Austen.  The fact that it's broken into three parts makes it convenient for short periods of reading.

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