I am so pleased that Candice Hern is rereleasing her early Trads as ebooks. While I do have all of them autographed, and on my keeper shelf, I can now save those precious copies and not have to worry about ruining them when I'm in the mood for a reread.
A Proper Companion, written in 1995, was Candice Hern's first book and it is still a charming story years later. Here we have the story of Emily Townsend, the estranged granddaughter of an earl, who is forced to earn her living as a companion after her father's death left her penniless. Emily doesn't complain about her circumstances, nor is she angry about her lot in life as she has a good position with the Dowager Countess of Bradleigh.
Lady Bradleigh is livid when she learns of her favorite grandson's betrothal to an unsuitable young woman fresh out of the schoolroom. Lady Bradleigh believes that her companion Emily is more suitable for Robert so she engineers to keep him in Bath with her while she arranges her household for a trip to London. That should only take a few weeks.
Never underestimate a grandmother's determination.
During that time in Bath, Emily and Robert learn about each other and slowly fall in love, all the while knowing they can never be together. Once they return to London, Robert ignores his betrothed as he watches Emily become a success in her first London season. After spending time with Emily, Robert realizes he no longer wants a proper, loveless ton marriage, but how to get out of his betrothal? Luckily his grandmother is way ahead of him.
Candice Hern can write a story that makes me feel like I am there with the characters and A Proper Companion was no exception. We get a peek into Bath, we get to see one of Almack's patronesses give Emily her approval, and we get a small lesson in how a lot of marriages were at that time without any of it feeling like a lesson.
The dialogue had just the right touch of authenticity without going into full-on Regency cant, nor did it sound too modern for the era in which it took place. All of the characters were important to the overall story, while leaving Robert and Emily as the stars. I've missed new stories by Candice Hern so I'm glad I have lots of old favorites to reread.
My only complaint with the e-version of A Proper Companion is that there were a couple of really glaring typos that weren't in my original copy. Other than that, the book was still a joy to read. If you haven't read A Proper Companion yet, what are you waiting for?
Reviewed by Valarie Pelissero