Okay, so Tallie's Knight is a boilerplate regency – you’ve got your arrogant, cynical but oh-so-very handsome lord and the poor but spunky governess who get together and live happily ever after. I would like to say it isn’t so… but it is. The salvation of the plot, however, is the fact that it’s a very well written regency that sometimes makes you forget how corny it is.
The beginning of Tallie's Knight is a bit unexpected. The arrogant and cold Magnus, Earl of d’Arenville (aka “The Icicle”) is felled by a cute little girl who wants to “cudd’w” with him and tell him stories that only she can understand. After a visit with a happily married friend, and the earth shattering moment with an openly affectionate little girl, he rushes back to London resolute in finding a wife to bear him children just like that one!
Magnus asks his delightfully vain, selfish and cruel cousin Laetitia, to pick bride candidates and throw a house party. Of course, all the girls attending are of Laetitia’s ilk so he’s a little disappointed – but not terribly surprised. What did he expect after all? Aren’t all women the same? Resigned to his fate, Magnus can only hope that the girl he eventually chooses will at least be a loving mother - unlike Laetitia, who lives in London while her children stay in the country with a governess. Unexpectedly, and after ten days of being unaware of her presence, Tallie, the said governess, is presented and Magnus is aware that she is a different, and preferable, option from the other candidates. In what seems appropriate in this time period, the noble lord decrees his marriage to a presumably grateful governess without any thought of proposing to her first.
Tallie finds herself reluctantly married to “The Icicle” as a result of Laetitia’s spiteful behavior. (I did mention she was delightfully evil?!) Their wedding, however, is the start of the romance between Tallie and Magnus.
Tallie is a bit of a rule breaker – but not completely as she strives to be a dutiful wife - and that in itself is convincing due to the time period. Magnus’ attitude is also in keeping with the period – he never thought of having a family until the "cute-little-girl" moment and his expectations are what I imagine regency aristocrats were brought up on. Nothing terribly different or unexpected in this regency. However, Ms. Gracie, paints a picture that’s so easy to get caught up in; and if you’ve pretty much been there, done that, she makes you want to go through it all over again.
Ms. Gracie describes what it must have been like for a peer in that time period convincingly – and with its rigid social rules, hypocrisy and its screwy attitude with regards to family, it ain’t pretty. Vastly differing in social status, Magnus, a picture of an aristocratic social conformist, and Tallie, a sheltered, idealistic poor relation who hasn’t even seen London, get together and find everlasting love. But it’s not as simple as that – the reader is given more than a glimpse of Marcus and Tallie as persons (yes, I know it’s fiction - like I said, Ms. Gracie is convincing!) and their quest for a happy life. I was left sighing and feeling as lovesick as Marcus and Tallie, even after the last page when all is resolved (I like feeling lovesick!). Yes, it’s corny but it’s good romantic corn!!!! Ms. Gracie pulls off a character-driven romance story (as opposed to stories that rely on some outside mystery for romantic or sexual tension and conflict) successfully with her excellent storytelling skill! With winning characters that the reader can easily empathize, sympathize and long for (namely, adorably alpha Magnus), Tallie’s Knight is more than a satisfactory read – it’s a nice vacation from the real world.