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Grand Design
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on December 12, 2000
I very much enjoyed this regency romance. I have been having a tough time reading regencies though since reading Marjorie Fassman's "Diary of Henry Fitzwilliam Darcy," a companion piece to Austen's "Pride and Prejudice" and Colin Firth's interpretation of Mr. Darcy as done for the A&E video series. Fassman ruined me for anything other than regencies as done by Jane Austen and Carla Kelly and those are fairly august standards. So this Jensen may well be a 5 star read for you instead of a 4 star. It is witty with a heroine who is an architect hidden within the family firm. Her uncles are nominally the real architects but they are really artists who like nothing more than afternoons spent in the local pub. The house they are renovating is owned by the hero marquess, who is the love interest in the novel. I have one minor quibble: I think no regency or romance author should again use the plot contrivance that everyone in the ton thinks that the hero murdered his first wife. This has to be the most overdone plot prop in the romance genre and needs to be buried. Everything else about the novel is great fun though and you can easily polish it off in an afternoon or an evening. Emma Jensen is an author to watch and I liked her earlier "Best Laid Plans" almost as well as this one. She has a witty and deft touch, essential to the regency romance. She also has a great dog in the book, the Marquess's Welsh corgi which right away inches me towards 4.5 stars.
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on December 7, 2000
The Marquess of Tregaron, returning to London after eight years of solitude in Wales, finds that the rumours which drove him away are not forgotten, and that he is still to be shunned. His townhouse, which has fallen to ruin in his absence, bears unpleasant memories, but he decides to renovate it. He hires a small and unknown architectural firm to do the work.
Cate is the true backbone of the firm, of course, from managing the finances to designing the changes to ensuring that her uncles are present when needed to continue the myth of their involvement in the business. She sees that the family does not want, and tries to instil in her flighty and romantic sister Lucy some sense of reality and economy.
The marquess tries to ignore the negative response from society while he searches for a bride. He would rather not have anything to do with the renovation of the town house, but finds himself increasingly drawn there by his growing fascination with Cate. Cate, meanwhile, is beleaguered by financial worry, an unpleasant man from her past, and the fear that the Marquess will discover the truth behind the façade of Buchanan and Buchanan.
This is a well-paced Regency, with engaging characters and unusual situations. The architectural detail is interesting (and makes the heroine's role more convincing) without being tedious or irrelevant. The romance develops slowly, due to the preoccupations of the hero and heroine, but is all the more convincing for that. The minor characters, Cate's uncles and sister, are humorously drawn.
Ms Jensen's prose moves at a lively pace and her style is certainly distinctive. No obvious anachronisms here, though the plot itself demands a stretch of belief, and the author (or her editor) needs to look the word "disinterested" up in a dictionary. Those are small concerns, however.
All in all, it's a fine regency romance, one of the best in the genre. I understand now what all the Jensen fans have been raving about.
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on June 18, 2001
I enjoyed reading it from begining to end.
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