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To get right to the point, Vanessa is a beautifully written romance that brilliantly displays the intricacies of courtship and love in the regency period.
Vanessa Marriott is one of six daughters that her mother is trying to marry off. When her beloved and only younger brother, George, signs up for the military to gain financial losses the family has suffered, just at the time Napoleon has escaped Elba, Vanessa decides that at the age of twenty-eight, she must go about the business of marrying a suitable and rich husband herself. The only problem is that she’s in love with the most unsuitable man….
Nevertheless, Vanessa decides on one of her suitors – the only one that she liked, really – despite her love for another. Lord Vesey, besides being well off, has diplomatic connections that may make George’s military career comfortable; at least, to Vanessa’s peace of mind. With a broken heart, and some determination, she becomes a successful diplomat’s wife in Vienna. She’s also far away from her first love, which makes it easier to make a go of her marriage. However, she didn’t count on Emery Graham being in Vienna, working closely with her new husband….
Lest you’re worried about a heroine who waffles between two men, DON’T. You can tell after reading the first few pages whom Vanessa will clearly end up with. Without spoiling anything (I hope!), just remember it’s a romance with the prerequisite happy ending.
What’s wonderful about Vanessa are the characters. (Well, and the romance, of course!) They’re very well developed and bring a sense of reality to the story – it’s what one imagines English people to be during the Regency period. The secondary characters support the main protagonists very well; each had a purpose to the story and romance. Vanessa’s romance itself is also very well done – marriage is a tricky thing between virtual strangers, not to mention one without love, or passion, at the very least, a situation that is hard to imagine in these modern times. But as I mentioned, Ms. Connolly does the intricate courtship very well and, although I quite liked Vanessa, I was impatient to see how she would come about her decision. Society also plays a large part in the story, as does the war, and many details of life during this period were included, which makes the characters and the story more interesting. I claim no knowledge of history during this time, but whatever Ms. Connolly provided impressed me as true.
Vanessa stands above the rest of the regency romances that are out there, so it’s not a hardship to recommend it.