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Chesney (Beaton) doesn't write typical regency romantic fluff. Her characters are usually harder, more self-centered, and less sympathetic than found in other books of the genre, and she often exposes the realities of a world in which women had little-to-no power. Nor does she romanticize the period: her books provide many details about the less attractive characteristics of an era plagued by serious class discrepancy, unrelieved poverty, unchecked crime, universally poor hygiene, and ridiculous fashions and practices among the wealthy.
Like a Dickens novel, this particular story is full of intrigue, plots, counter-plots, pitfalls, scrapes and escapes; and the many historical details bring the period vividly to life as the story unfolds. The book has the strongest central character I've found in a Chesney book so far - a young woman who manages to take care of herself through a combination of physical strength, native cunning, a sensible brain, a kind heart, and the ability to take life as it comes. I think this is my favorite Chesney book outside of her Traveling Matchmaker series (which is a bit "fluffier" than this story).
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I loved the story and the reader. Marion Chesney aka M C Beaton never disappoints. Her stories are wonderful.
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