REVIEW of The Truth about Miss Ashbourne by Joanna Barker

Truth about Miss AshbourneAs the orphan daughter of a lowly sea captain and a disinherited noblewoman, Juliana Ashbourne is forced to make her way in the world as a governess. When a solicitor informs her that her mother’s father has recently passed on, leaving Juliana a sizable inheritance in his will, Juliana is shocked to learn that she must fraternize with the people who disowned her mother. Uninterested in reconciliation, she determines to pay her visit to Havenfield, meet her grandmother, collect her fortune, and disappear back to London to start a girls’ school.

But with all these plans, Juliana does not reckon with either William Rowley or with the realities of forgiveness. During her month-long stay at Havenfield, Juliana develops an affection for her rueful grandmother, her shy cousin Eliza, and the manor itself. William, a distant relative to whom the estate was entailed, breaks down her defenses with his teasing banter and frank questions. Is there finally someone to fill Juliana’s heart so that she will no longer be alone?

This Regency has an unusal style from your run-of-the-mill historical romances. Written in first person, it allows the reader to experience each of Juliana’s emotions firsthand–embarassment, anxiety, heartbreak, joy, and delight. William Rowley is the quintessential Regency hero–rich, well-dressed, virile, a caring landowner, a skilled dancer, an expert horseman, and a consummate conversationalist. It is really quite easy to see what Juliana sees in him and why she falls for him so quickly.

Speaking of falls…the book is full of common Regency tropes–a tumble from a horse leading to a sprained ankle, an accidental midnight tryst in the portrait gallery, blackmail from a jealous rival–but the story is so well told, it does not matter how many times those elements have been seen before. This book was a delightful romance that shows the importance of belonging. Recommended.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.

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