Friday, May 02, 2014
REVIEW: The Harlow Hoyden by Lynn Messina
Author: Lynn Messina
Publisher: Potatoworks Press
Publication Date: February, 2014
Genre: Regency Romance
Description: Miss Emma Harlow hasn’t earned the reputation as a hoyden for nothing, so when the Duke of Trent discovers her in his conservatory stealing one of his orchids, he’s isn’t surprised—charmed, delighted and puzzled, yes, but not surprised. It is Emma who is amazed. She has naturally concluded that the man reading in the conservatory must be the country cousin (who else in London would actually read?) and is quite vexed to discover that he is the Duke of Trent himself—imagine, stealing the duke’s prize Rhyncholaelia digbyana under his very nose!
But her vexation doesn’t last long. For Emma is a practical young lady with a mission: to end her dear sister Lavinia’s engagement to the villainous (and dreadfully dull!) Sir Waldo Windbourne, and she thinks that the famous libertine is just the man for the job. If he would only seduce her sister away from Sir Waldo…. Well, not seduce exactly, but flirt mercilessly and engage her interest. Perhaps then Lavinia would jilt the baron. The Duke of Trent is resistant, of course. Despite his reputation, he does not toy with the affections of innocents. And besides, it’s not her sister he longs to seduce.
My Thoughts: I became familiar with Lynn Messina’s writing when I read one of her chick-lit titles in the Red Dress Ink line. In addition to chick-lit, Ms. Messina also has young adult, fantasy, paranormal and historical romance in her repertoire. The Harlow Hoyden is a historical romance set in the regency period featuring Emma Harlow, a woman who lives by her own set of rules and refuses to bow down to the expectations of society. She enlists the assistance of The Duke of Trent to break up her twin sister Lavinia’s engagement to the odious Sir Waldo the Windbag. Her plan is simple…he will draw Lavinia’s attention away from her fiancé in the hopes that she will develop feelings for The Duke and call off her engagement. Emma is convinced that Sir Waldo is a villain and cannot stand the idea of her beloved twin ruining her life. What happens next is a madcap adventure that has Emma breaking into Waldo’s home, dancing the waltz and chasing down traitorous spies, with The Duke of Trent either by her side or close on her heels.
I really enjoyed this story. Emma is a breath of fresh air and I liked her immensely. She’s daring and direct and refuses to let society or her family dictate to her how a proper lady should behave. She has been given the nickname The Harlow Hoyden because she walks a fine line between propriety and scandal and she could care less. She has no interest in marriage or making a suitable match and prefers to live her life as she sees fit. Whether she is stealing a prized orchid from The Duke’s conservatory or proposing outlandish schemes to break up her sister’s engagement, she does so with a gusto and headstrong determination that would make most people cringe in horror. There are a few moments in the book that made me wonder if Emma’s actions are too rash, but quickly remembered that is why she earned her moniker.
I thought The Duke was an excellent character and the perfect match for Emma. This period in time usually depicts men being in charge and viewed as complete masters of the universe. I enjoyed seeing The Duke agreeing to help Emma thinking he would be able to deter her, not realizing who is really in charge. Emma’s twin and her brother and his wife were also likeable characters. I am hoping that Lavinia will get her own story in the future.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of The Harlow Hoyden from the author in exchange for an honest review.
My Final Verdict: Overall, fans of historical romance will enjoy this offering and if you are not a fan of historical romance, but enjoy a fun and adventurous story with strong characters and witty dialogue, where villains are vanquished and good triumphs over bad, give this one a try.
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