REVIEW of The Belle of Winchester (The Ellsworth Assortment #2) by Christina Dudley

 

Release Date: December 26, 2022

About the Author: Clean Regency romance author Christina Dudley’s books have been called “enchanting,” “sparkling” and “swoon-worthy” by reviewers like Austenprose and Austenesque Reviews. Her award-winning series The Hapgoods of Bramleigh contains six books: The Naturalist, A Very Plain Young Man, School for Love, Matchless Margaret, The Purloined Portrait, and A Fickle Fortune. Her next series, The Ellsworth Assortment, begins with Tempted by Folly!

Dudley also wrote The Beresfords, a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, which the Seattle Times praised as “ingenious and entertaining,” and of which Austenprose’s Lisa Galek declared, “I would rank The Beresfords with some of the best Austen updates I’ve ever read or seen.”

To join her mailing list and receive a FREE copy of a Hapgoods of Bramleigh novella, visit her website.

She and her family live in Bellevue, Washington.


MY REVIEW

Lily Ellsworth loves being surrounded by suitors. Tall, short, plain, handsome–it gives her a thrill to be the center of masculine attention. Of course, she knows she will eventually have to choose one of them and settle down to the humdrum existence of married life, and when that time comes, she’s resolved to accept Mr. Gilbert Wright, the dashing, wealthy, not-very-articulate-but-decently-handsome owner of the race horse Slapbang.

But while Lily Ellsworth is busy casting her net to add to her coterie of suitors, Mr. Wright’s cousin, the new curate Simon Kenner, refuses to be taken in. Although others are determined to hang on every word from Miss Ellsworth’s lips, Simon is humorously critical of her flirtatious ways. An eloquent preacher certain to rise in the Church of England, Simon is destined to marry a lady who will do him credit, not one who sets the neighborhood talking every time she goes out into the garden. However charming Miss Ellsworth might be, she is not the woman for him–at least, that’s the argument he keeps making to himself. But when Mr. Wright makes a bid for the lady’s hand in marriage, Simon Kenner is forced to admit to himself that his interest in Lily Ellsworth goes far beyond a priest’s for a parishioner…

The Belle of Winchester is the second book in Christina Dudley’s new series, The Ellsworth Assortment. The series chronicles the adventures of the ramshackle offspring of Mr. Ellsworth who has had five children by four successive wives. The first book is charming in and of itself, but does not need to be read first in order to enjoy this second installment.

Lily Ellsworth is a flirt, but an adorable one. As the book progresses, she works to remedy her flaws and become a kinder more compassionate person, and one cannot help sympathizing with her as she tries to untangle herself from the romantic imbroglios that surround her. Simon Kenner is everything that one could want in a Regency hero–a little of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s brooding arrogance combined with Henry Tilney’s teasing good-naturedness, mixed together with the admirable religious sentiments of Edmund Bertram. The relationship between Lily and Simon is perfection, from the moment he catches her stealing the roses in his garden to the delicate jabs he inserts in conversation every time they meet in the drawing room.

The comedic situations and back-and-forth banter in this book are laugh-out-loud funny, and the romance is delightfully swoon-worthy. This was my favorite book of 2022! Five stars, and highly recommended!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

“In a black frock coat and surplice like that, the man ought to look like a bat in an apron, Lily complained to herself. Mr. Pennyworth always did. And Mr. Gregory would have as well, except he was so burly and enormous. But for whatever disobliging reason, Mr. Simon Kenner did not look a thing like a bat in an apron. To Lily’s dismay, he looked…impressive.”

-The Belle of Winchester, by Christina Dudley

 

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