Jessica Benson, already a successful writer of traditional Regencies, has now contributed a sparkling, refreshing story to the popular niche of Regency-set historicals. The setting, the society, and the ambiance are familiar to readers of Regency romances, but The Accidental Duchess has enough unusual aspects to fascinate and intrigue the most jaded reader.
For one thing, a first-person narration, most often identified with gothic novels, is unusual in this genre. But it works quite well in this story. With some stories, the reader wants to get inside the hero's head to find out what he's thinking or feeling. But in this case, it's best for you not to find out things until the heroine does. Trust me. Besides, the narrator's voice is so charmingly humorous that it adds greatly to the fun of reading the book.
In addition, Benson uses an old-fashioned kind of chapter heading that provides even more entertainment. For example, Chapter One has the heading, “In which I accidentally marry and am very nearly seduced by the wrong man.” Chapter Eight begins, “In which we arrive at the Clarendon for the second time and I get foxed.” To me, these openings are reminiscent of the hilarious chapter titles that Elizabeth Peters uses in her Amelia Peabody books: for example, in The Last Camel Died at Noon, “Chapter One: I Told You This Was a Hare-Brained Scheme.”
It would be difficult to give you any useful plot summary for this convoluted tale, other than to say that the heroine expects to marry one man but finds herself married to his twin brother. Why does she suspect her parents of having created this mess? Which one is her legal husband? Which one does she want to sleep with--I mean, to live with? And what in blazes is going on?
My recommendation? Read and enjoy.