Donna Simpson is one of my favorite Regency authors. Her books are
deceptively simple. There are no deeds of derring-do, no spies or
smugglers or any of the plot contrivances that are often found in
romances. Rather there are real human beings dealing with the
intricacies of real human emotions. Pamela’s Second Season is
Miss Pamela Neville’s first season was cut short and just in the nick of
time. The eighteen year old miss had been up to any lark and, had not a
death in the family led the Nevilles to retreat home in March, who knows
what kind of disgrace she might have brought. This year, however, she
has a firmer purpose. While her older sister Rachel has come to town to
find a husband, Pamela has decided to learn how to be a lady so that Sir
Colin Varens, the man she has loved since she was thirteen, will forget
about his infatuation with Rachel and realize that Pamela is the one for him.
Pamela’s newfound propriety is, however, not fully formed. Bored with
the details of shopping and socializing, one morning she dresses in her
breeches and goes for a ride in the park. There she rescues a young
girl from her runaway horse and meets Belinda’s guardian, the Earl of
Strongwyck. Pamela befriends thirteen year old Belinda, who has
recently lost her parents. Thus, Pamela comes to know the earl.
Strong had been jilted a year earlier and has no thought of love or
marriage. He has decided to concentrate on his political career and his
estates. But he finds himself strangely attracted to this unpretentious
young lady. She is good to his lonely ward, enjoyable to be with, witty
and just fun. Could he be falling in love with Pamela?
It is hard to offer a plot synopsis of Pamela’s Second Season
without a slight spoiler. The conflict in the story has to do with the
arrival in London of Sir Colin. Finally convinced that Rachel will
never marry him, Colin turns to Pamela and offers her what she thought
she most desired - his hand in marriage. Hence Pamela finds herself
with two offers, an unexpected dilemma. Whom will she choose?
Some of my list friends have complained about Pamela’s indecisiveness.
They found it annoying. I found it remarkably true to life. Pamela’s
beloved brother - Sir Colin’s best friend - favors Varens offer. She
has “loved” her neighbor for years; he was the sum of all her hopes. He
offers her a comfortable and familiar life, close to her family. Yes,
she enjoys Strong’s company and appreciates the fact that he accepts her
as she is. Yes, the kisses he has stolen arouse in her strange and
inexplicable feelings. But to become a countess! To move away from her
home. What should she do?
Pamela is a delightful heroine. She is young but not foolish. Strong’s
gradually realization that he has truly found love and his despair when
he fears he has lost it rings true. Likewise, Simpson’s secondary
characters enrich the story. Her brother, Gerry, Lord Haven and his
fiancée, Jane Dresden (the protagonists of A Country Courtship)
have their own problems to solve. Pamela’s grandmother, mother and
sister are also well developed characters.
What Simpson does best is to involve her readers in the very real
emotional lives of her characters. I felt Pamela’s confusion and
uncertainty, understood them, and empathized with her dilemma. And I
cheered when she acted decisively to insure her happiness.
Readers who appreciate realistic characters facing real dilemmas will
enjoy Pamela’s Second Season. Simpson knows how to tug on the