Well, not if Jenny Brown is that writer. Her debut novel, Lord Lightning, takes the genre and gives it a spin just unique enough to bring a fresh take to the same old haute monde, without alienating the purists who only want stories that could have actually happened.
You see, aside from being the standard well-born lady left penniless by a wastrel father, Ms. Brown’s heroine, Eliza Ferrell, is a gifted astrologer who can read patterns in the stars to predict the future and analyze personalities. At first, I was a bit skeptical, in the way I view the lady-as-secret-pirate-queen or lady-as-secret-intrepid-spy stories; I can only suspend my disbelief so far. But Ms. Brown gives us just enough backstory about an aunt who passed ancient wisdom on to Eliza, and I found myself agreeing that it could have, just maybe, really happened in the real world.
Eliza offends the rakish Lord Hartwood, aka “Lord Lightning” by telling his mistress the stars warn against her going on a journey with him. You see, Lord Lightning intends to comply with a requirement in his predecessor’s will by visiting his mother like a dutiful son – except with scarlet woman in tow. When the mistress doesn’t go, Lord Lightning forces Eliza to substitute, even wearing said mistress’s tawdry dresses and submitting to his attentions in from of Mamma. Of course, said attentions turn out to be quite acceptable to Eliza, and his Lordship finds her to be much more than a mousy little bluestocking with a star chart.
There is nothing out of the ordinary in the story line, but since you are reading Regency romance, you aren’t expecting anything except a cute meet, unlikely characters slowly seeing each other in a new light, a vanquished threat to the heroine, and a happy ending. And that is what Ms. Brown delivers.
Now one word of warning – Ms. Brown’s voice is what I consider very period appropriate. She writes in the just-a-bit-stilted way I imagine members of the haute ton to have really spoken. I can see where some readers might find that a bit wordy and formal, but I loved it. It’s not as easy to read as some books, but the authenticity and story line make it well worth any effort.
I look forward to seeing many more of Ms. Brown’s efforts in the bookstore – and my TBR pile – very soon!