Underestimating Miss Cecilia | Book Review
Happy Pub Day, Miss Cecilia!
Carolyn Miller's newest book, published by Kregel Publications, meets the world today!
I always get excited about publishing days for authors, because I know what a long, exhausting journey of hard work, editing, and rewriting led up to it! So, "Happy Birthday!" to the second addition to the Daughters of Aynsley series! (If you want a refresher on Book 1, A Hero for Miss Hatherleigh, click here to read my review from a few months ago.)
Cecilia Hatherleigh has many secrets in her shy, sweet heart -- but none bigger than her unrequited love for Edward Amherst, the earl's son next door. Her love has persevered over many years, even when he grows to be a bit of a rake. Yet despite his fondness for females, he never seems to see her as anything more than the quiet younger sister, and nothing Cecy does has changed that. Rather than pining after his perhaps unworthy love, she determines to focus on her newfound faith, following God's leading to make a better world for the poor and dispossessed around her.
A London riot awakens Edward to the responsibilities due his family name. It's time to turn his life around to please his noble father -- and that means restoring his abandoned legal career and making a marriage of convenience. Neither will be easy, given his past and prejudices of the upper echelons of society to which he belongs.
When misadventure strikes at a house party, these two are thrown together even as their lives are upended. If Cecy can't trust God, overcome her shyness, and find her inner strength, the good work they've both done may be for naught -- and they may miss the chance for true love...
Well-known for her authentic Regency romances set against less-explored, true historical backgrounds, best-selling author Carolyn Miller continues to transport readers to the era they love with this second book in the Daughters of Aynsley series.
Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children.
A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency novels include The Elusive Miss Ellison, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Winning Miss Winthrop, Miss Serena's Secret, and The Making of Mrs. Hale, all available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Koorong, etc.
This is a hard review to write! First, I'll tell you what I enjoyed about this book... then I'll explain why it sadly didn't make it to five stars for me.
"It was, perhaps, the greatest torment to love someone who barely seemed to notice one's existence."
What a first sentence! Cecy's love for the boy next door is so authentic in its angst. Anyone who has had a crush knows how stubborn the heart's affections are and how real the battle for surrender can be! I really identified with her journaling as a way to pray and understand her own heart. And although I understand that part of Cecy's journey is learning to speak up and overcome fear and shyness, half the time I wanted to give her timid personality a proper push into spunkiness!
I love how deft Carolyn Miller is at taking a secondary character that you never thought you could like and turning them into someone you are cheering for. Ned Amherst is this character -- he was rather a foppish rake in previous books, (The Making of Mrs. Hale, for one) but he becomes a flawed but deep-thinking hero who struggles to overcome guilt over his past and find freedom in Christ. (He made me roll my eyes more than once because of missed opportunities in the romance department, but he was cute in his cluelessness!) Ned's championing of the plight of the Irish and gypsies in England in his day was eye-opening and interesting.
And the historical details, always a strong and consistent element in this author's books, are taken to a new level in Underestimating Miss Cecilia! Besides more serious elements such as the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, this book also includes fun details about a Regency house party. For instance, these parties, where large groups of single young people would stay on a country estate for weeks at a time, often included various kinds of kissing games! The house party is the climax of the story, with a surprising plot twist that I didn't see coming.
But it was only halfway through the book that Ned, Cecy, and the other characters really pulled me into the story, which is where this book loses 5 star status for me. The first half of the book I struggled with dialogue that seemed a bit forced and unnatural and slow-paced storytelling, both of which are pet peeves of mine.
That being said, I have high hopes for the book coming out in November, about Cecilia's sister Verity -- just reading the excerpt of the first chapter was refreshing! I think that Misleading Miss Verity will bring back more of the wittiness and freshness that has endeared this author's books to my heart.
Final verdict: 4 stars.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of the Kregel Publications Blog Tour program. All opinions expressed here are my own. I was not required to give a positive review.*