More TBR pile spelunking brought up a 1989 Traditional Regency by Katherine Kingsley. I've read and enjoyed several of her historicals (my favorite being Call Down the Moon - if you see it, buy it!) but never read one of her regencies. I found A Dishonorable Proposal to be a sweet, humorous and enjoyable "old school" trad.
Annabelle is a beautiful woman whose spendthrift father is expecting her to marry well to keep him in gambling funds. Annabelle had a Season several years ago, but it was a complete disaster. She is outspoken and bookish and does not suffer fools gladly. She left London in disgrace after emptying her lemonade glass over a dastardly marquess at Almack's. She is perfectly happy with her exile - if only she could get her parents to let her be.
Harry, the Duke of Paxton, is another person longing to be left alone. He has a demanding, shrewish mother and a feckless younger brother who is always in one scrape or another. He went as far as Italy for several years in order to escape them, but has reluctantly returned to take up his duties. After several months of matchmaking by his mother and close calls by his brother, Harry again leaves, but only to a small holding in the country where he eschews using his title and can write his travel journals in peace.
Annabelle and Harry meet and instantly hit it off; Harry finds Annabelle's straightforward nature (and her person) very attractive, while Annabelle is quite drawn to Harry's scholarship (and his person). Soon Harry is giving Annabelle lessons in all those forbidden subjects she has always wanted to learn - things like Greek and mathematics - as well as love.
Annabelle and Harry are soon in love but more obstacles are in their path than one might think. There is Annabelle's great antipathy toward the nobility, fueled by the aforementioned dastardly marquess - whose presence and habits provide some real menace to the proceedings - mistaken identities, and just plain bad timing. It take a while for all to be resolved and, while the several near misses Annabelle and Harry experience did cause things to drag a time or two, for the most part their misadventures are fun. Kingsley does a nice job of showing how they could fall in love in such a short time, while making it feel gradual and natural and there is plenty of heat between the two to help move things along.
I won't hesitate to pick up another Kingsley trad, and am looking forward to seeing what else lurks in my TBR pile.
Reviewed by Cheryl Sneed, May 22, 2008