Review: The Famous Heroine/The Plumed Bonnet

The Famous Heroine/The Plumed Bonnet
The Famous Heroine/The Plumed Bonnet by Mary Balogh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Duo of Regency Romances

This book contains two books from the Stanton-Downes series. The books can be read as standalones even though they are books 5 and 6 in the series.

THE FAMOUS HEROINE: Cora Downes is the daughter of a wealthy merchant. Exuberant and without polish, Cora is too physical for refined society. Because she rescued the grandson of a duchess, Cora has been brought to London to find a husband. Francis Kneller is nursing a broken heart. For years he courted Lady Samantha who ended up marrying someone else (book number 4). When Cora meets Francis, she is comfortable in his presence because his foppish appearance relaxes her. She knows that he cannot be interested in her. When the two are accidentally caught in a compromising situation, marriage is the only solution. Cora, however, is surprised to find out that Francis is not the effeminate peacock she thought him to be. This book is incredibly funny as Cora keeps getting into scrapes as she performs “rescues” that might actually be causing more problems than they solve. I love how Balogh creates these slow, intense emotional dramas that are all about the heart of the characters rather than a superficial plot. The deliberate pacing of this book allows these characters to build a relationship between them so that once the marriage is required, they are ready to actually have emotional intimacy. The humor of this book is pitch perfect. Cora is sometimes silly in her assumptions, but this book never makes fun of her instead showing readers her good nature and caring for others that leads her into misadventures. Rating: 4 stars.

THE PLUMED BONNET: Alistair Munro, Duke of Bridgwater is a former romantic who has made himself cynical to protect himself. He is now at an age where he realizes he might need to marry. While traveling, he comes upon a woman in a gaudy hat and cloak walking along the road. Because she pierces his ennui, he agrees to take her in his carriage while she tells him a tale of being a governess turned heiress who was robbed. He doesn’t believe her but is amused enough by her story to agree to take her to her destination. He figures that once they arrive, he will make her his mistress. What he doesn’t know is that everything that Stephanie Gray is telling him is true. I loved this book. Balogh can write such complex emotional stories. Alistair is playing with Stephanie but she believes him a hero. Her desire to be worthy of his good deeds toward her make her miserable. I loved how these two slowly have to work through their new relationship. These are two decent people who have to learn to deal with one another and build a relationship. Complex and with deep emotional overtones, this is my favorite of the series. Rating: 4.5 stars.

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