Friday 9 July 2021

A Discovering Diamonds Review of The Fourth Marchioness by Jayne Davis


James, Marquess of Harlford has a problem: his widowed mother wants him to wed and start his nursery as soon as possible. James is not that keen. He is far more interested in his chemical experiments, especially as it seems he may well be in a position to get his hands on some very explosive information. However, he admits dear Mama has a point and allows her to arrange a house party to which she invites a number of simpering, titled misses.

James wants more from a wife. He wants a woman of intelligence with whom he can share some of his passions for research. He thought he’d found one such woman a year ago, but his proposal was refused. It is therefore not surprising that his interest is sparked by Alice Bryant, former governess but now working as a paid companion. Alice is well-read. She has an obvious passion for knowledge and nature. She is also most unsuitable what with her lack of pedigree. Plus, of course, there’s the added factor that Alice is undercover, entrusted with the mission to spy on Lord Harlford and see just what it is he is up to with his exploding devices. 

Regency/Georgian Romance as a genre is something of a trope—which does not preclude this reader from devouring such novels. The Fourth Marchioness delivers to the trope, with an overbearing and unlikeable ambitious mother, a titled gentleman who wants more than a bed mate, and a young woman who works for her living. I would have liked the main characters to be somewhat better defined, have a bit more fire in them. As it is, they don’t quite manage to snag my full engagement, albeit that Alice is realistically portrayed given her gender and her status. However: the intrigue is adequate, the historical setting is well-presented—vivid descriptions of interiors, clothes and social conventions—and the cast of supporting characters helps to deliver an entertaining story as it moves along to its eventual happy ending. 

Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds 

© Anna Belfrage
 e-version reviewed

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