We recently had a round robin discussions among TRR contributors
about the impact of anachronisms and errors on rating a book. And the
consensus seemed to be that if a book keeps our interest, we can readily
let little things pass. It is only when the story and characters
aren't compelling that we obsess about such things as whether or not
there were cardinals in England or the proper courtesy titles for sons
Well, my response to Guarding an Angel proves this point. There
are a few boo-boos in the details of Martha Schroeder's second
Regency, but because I liked the story and the characters, I – the
original history scold – said, so what!
Lady Amelia is the only daughter and only child of the recently deceased
Duke of Doncaster. She is wealthy, lovely, compassionate, charitable,
and, at 24, still unwed. As the story opens, her dear friend, Captain
Gideon Falconer, is expressing his concern about the intentions of her
cousin, Eustace. The new Duke of Doncaster inherited the title and the
entailed estates, but Amelia inherited the family fortune. It seems
certain that the slimy Eustace will try to solve his pressing financial
problems by marrying Amelia by fair means or foul.
Gideon – tall, handsome, dashing, and brave – is an anomaly in Regency
England. As the former Duke's protege, he was educated at Eton and has
a commission in a fine cavalry regiment. But everyone knows that Amelia
rescued Gideon from the streets of London when he was about ten years
old. He was a gypsy brat, sold to a chimney sweep. His social position
is ambiguous at best.
Amelia and Gideon grew up together as best of friends. And now, Gideon
feels compelled to protect her from her cousin and from all the other
fortune hunters who might threaten her. He owes it to his benefactor.
Of course, Gideon loves his Amy; but he clearly recognizes his
unsuitability as a prospective husband. A duke's daughter cannot marry
a nameless foundling, however much he has made of himself.
Amelia has no plans to marry anyone. She intends to devote her life to
the charitable works that she shared with her father. If she has an
unspoken tendre towards Gideon, she is unsure how he feels about her.
It well could be that he simply loves her as a sister.
Of course, Eustace becomes more and more desperate, especially after
Amelia roundly rejects his proposal. Pressured by his ruthless
creditors, he agrees to a plan to abduct his cousin. And then, of
course, Gideon must ride to her rescue. When both of them are in
danger, their true feelings come to the surface. But there is still
that problem of their differences in birth and fortune.
OK, this is a romance and through a series of somewhat improbable
coincidences, this hurdle is overcome. And, once again, because I was
enjoying myself so much, I overlooked a plot device that might otherwise
have had me grumbling.
Schroeder won me over with her characters. Amelia is the kind of
heroine I enjoy. She is intelligent and capable and knows her own
mind. Gideon is a man whose honor wars with his honorable love. The
villains are appropriately villainous and the secondary romance is very
pleasant as well. And (although I can't tell you why) the denouement
was very heartwarming indeed.
Martha Schroeder is a most promising new Regency author. What a pity
that her publisher is dropping its Regency line. I only hope that
another publisher picks up her and the other Fawcett authors. I hope
Guarding an Angel is not the last Schroeder Regency.
(An aside. Obviously Fawcett's decision to drop the Regency line has had
an impact on its quality control. The back blurb sets a new record for
inaccuracy. Not only is the plot line spurious, but the blurb doesn't
even get the names of the hero and heroine right!)