"I LOVE LOVE LOVE Barbara Metzger!" – Universal quote from large number of e-mail messages from Regency readers.
Yes, I have written the remark in the previous paragraph. I have also read it numerous times during e-mail discussions of Barbara Metzger's books. This particular author engenders the kind of enthusiasm tendered only to a select body of writers in the warm-and-cozy world of Regency romance fandom. A Regency reader browsing in a bookstore moves in on a Metzger like a peckish plane passenger pounces on a proffered package of peanuts.
I purchased AN ENCHANTED AFFAIR mainly because it had Barbara Metzger's name on it. I was also attracted by the cover. Many Regencies look very much alike, as you know. (My youngest grandterror wants to know why my books always have pictures of a man and a lady on the front instead of pictures of interesting things like horses and dogs and trains and monsters.) Well, this cover has a man and a lady on it, but the scene is not static. The characters are in the process of being married, and obviously in a private home rather than in St. George's, Hanover Square. The heroine's garb seems a bit unconventional, and the hero is looking at her with what I can only describe as a smirk on his face. The gentleman performing the ceremony seems to be earnestly impressing upon them the need to be sure they know what they are doing. Well, one usually thinks one does when one marries, doesn't one? But one is not always correct. So I found the cover intriguing because it hinted of an interesting story.
The heroine, Lisanne Neville, is definitely unconventional. She spends her days in the forests communing with the magical beings there-beings that no one else believes exist. After her parents die, she is left in the care of greedy relatives who want only to control her fortune. In fact, they plan to have a cousin force her so that she will have to marry him, giving him control of her fortune. To prevent this from happening, she proposes to the Duke of St. Sevrin, who returns from the war to find his estates impoverished by mismanagement and embezzlement. Immediately discovering that he hates poverty, the duke finds her proposal quite interesting. Although it is not a love match, the two characters do try to be considerate of each other. From that basis, an unusual relationship develops.
Although I do not specifically seek out romances with magical elements, I enjoyed the subtle touch of magic in this book. It constrasts nicely with the nefarious notions of the rotten relatives determined to keep Lisanne's fortune under their control. It also helps the hero in his struggle to make himself into the fine man he ought to be instead of the debauched man he has been turning himself into.
AN ENCHANTED AFFAIR is a charming book with several interesting surprises. I certainly plan to keep the book no matter how crowded my bookshelves get. (Just this morning my daughter actually said to me, "Is it possible to consider that you might not need all these books?" It was all I could do not to give her the cut direct.) This book takes you into a world that has enough conflict to keep you concerned and reading, and enough easy delight to give you surcease from your own problems.
I hope you can find a copy.
Barbara R. Hume