by Wilma Counts

November 2001
ISBN: 0-8217-7042-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

I really, really wanted to like Miss Richardson Comes of Age. The story of a woman author in the English Regency period falling in love with a man who condemns female writers is a fascinating idea. The author obviously knew the writing of the period as well, and the intelligent discourse going on within the book was quite amazing. At times, the writing style reminded me of Jane Austen, which was no accident I’m sure, considering how the famous author is admired by the characters within the story. But the book fell far short of my expectations, and to be honest I had trouble finishing it.

It’s rare to find a heroine being quite as intellectual as Annabelle Richardson. More than intelligent, she is a scholar and a writer, even if she has to use a pseudonym to protect her reputation. She’s also determined to only marry for love, which leads her to reject all her suitors. When some of these spurned men get revenge by spreading rumors about her, Annabelle decides to use her nom de plume to get some revenge of her own, and writes a satire that quickly takes on a life of its own—and attracts the attention of the older brother of one of the men.

Thorne Wainwright is just as intelligent as Annabelle, and just as hot tempered in vowing to find the woman who wrote such slanderous things about his brother. He sneers at the mysterious author’s writing style and calls her cowardly for refusing to step forward, even though he does not condone what the men did. Meanwhile, he befriends Annabelle and the two of them both quickly realize their feelings for one another.

The rest of the book really should have been filled with Thorne’s slow change of heart as well as Annabelle’s decision to come forward with her writing, so that their path to happiness would be clear. But instead there were also numerous side characters and their problems, including a mostly unresolved subplot about Thorne and his younger brother, discussions on writing itself and the reform movements of the day (about which Thorne’s attitudes, while admirable, seemed a little too modern), and cameos from famous people of the day all piled on top of the main love story. As a result, Thorne and Annabelle don’t actually spend much time together. Their characters remain underdeveloped as well, connecting intellectually more than emotionally or physically.

Perhaps it was this lack of passion that made it so difficult for me to stay interested in the book; as a story about writers of all times, and women authors in the Regency period in particular, the book was interesting. But as a romance novel it was a disappointment.

Reviewed in March 2002 by Wendy B..

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