A Counterfeit Betrothal by Mary Balogh

Cover of A Counterfeit Betrothal/The Notorious Rake by Mary Balogh: A woman in a pink Regency dress holds a finger to her lips.

A Counterfeit Betrothal

Mary Balogh

2013 (1992)

Dell

Mass market paperback

Source: Personal copy
Lady Sophia Bryant wants to get her estranged parents back together. Her solution is to pretend to be engaged to her childhood friend, Lord Francis Sutton. Her parents, Olivia and Marcus, have to help prepare for the wedding. In turn, they pretend to still be in love for Sophia’s sake. Alternating points of view  of the four of them showed how they miscommunicated with each other.
This was well written, though a little repetitive. (In an early chapter, it said twice on the same page that her parents had been separated for fourteen years!) The characters all had depth and clear motivation. There were a few times I thought, “Why doesn’t she just ask him if he loves her? Well no, then the book would be over too soon.” The plot was mostly the miscommunications, but I liked this book overall. As a reprint of an earlier novel, I see Balogh’s strengths lie in characterization more than plot. Now I’m interested in reading more recent Mary Balogh books, like her Survivor’s Club series.

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#AusteninAugustRBR 2015: Austenland by Shannon Hale


Austenland

By Shannon Hale

2007

Ebook from library
I don’t read much contemporary romance. I like to watch romantic comedies more than read them. So I’m glad this was made into a movie. Even so, this was a quick read and I enjoyed it!

Jane Hayes read Pride and Prejudice as a teen and became obsessed with Jane Austen. Now in her thirties, she’s searching New York for her Mr. Darcy–or her Colin Firth as Darcy. (She hides the DVD in her houseplant.)

Her Great Aunt Carolyn dies and gives her an all expenses paid trip to Pembrook Park, a Regency theme park in the English countryside. In this “Austenland” actors play the men and supporting characters to the “Ideal Client,” women who want to live the fantasy of falling in love with a Regency gentleman.

Jane arrives with the idea that she’ll give up men forever after getting lost in the fantasy. She ends up falling for two different men, the Darcylike “Mr. Nobley” and Martin, an actor who plays a servant. She wonders if the actor playing Nobley is as sincere as Martin is as a real person.

It was hilarious that the women who come to Pembrook Park are given different names by the manager. Jane becomes “Jane Erstwhile,” another American woman is “Elizabeth Charming” and a third woman is “Amelia Heartwright.”  That part was more like Dickens than Austen, where the characters’ names describe their natures. On the other hand, giving the women silly names added to Hale’s theme of living in a fantasy versus reality.

I would recommend this if you like Jane Austen or funny contemporary romance, or both.