Belle of the Ball

Lady Delafont's Dilemma

Lady May's Folly

Lord St. Claire's Angel

A Matchmaker's Christmas

Miss Truelove Beckons

A Rake's Redemption

 
Pamela’s Second Season
by Donna Simpson
(Zebra Regency, $4.99, G) ISBN 0-8217-7394-1
****
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 vintage Simpson.

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 heartstrings.

--Jean Mason


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