Publication Date: June 13, 2022
About the Author Mary Kingswood: “I live in the beautiful Highlands of Scotland with my husband. I like chocolate, whisky, my Kindle, massed pipe bands, long leisurely lunches, chocolate, going places in my campervan, eating pizza in Italy, summer nights that never get dark, wood fires in winter, chocolate, the view from the study window looking out over the Moray Firth and the Black Isle to the mountains beyond. And chocolate. I dislike driving on motorways, cooking, shopping, hospitals.”
When the landed gentry family the Plummers fall into insolvency, the only recourse is to sell their opulent home and retreat into a smaller property next door. Unfortunately, the wealthy Fletcher family who has purchased the home is severely tainted by trade, as Mr. Fletcher earned his money as a mercer (a dealer in textiles). While the baronet is determined not to snub the new neighbors, his wife has a different outlook altogether. Thus the stage is set for James Plummer, the second son and often-absent rector of the neighborhood, to encounter Julia Fletcher, the hoydenish overly tall daughter of the mercer as she is swinging her legs sitting on the gate of their new property.
James is entranced by Julia’s outspoken ways and finds her awkward clumsiness adorable. Although he had never looked to marry before this, he determines that Julia is the one for him. But Julia, although she greatly enjoys the humorous Mr. Plummer’s company, is fanatically opposed to marrying. What reason could there possibly be for marrying when it turns a woman into a shadow of herself? As James and Julia tread the path to true love, they must overcome vicious rumors, dangerous animals, hostile parents, and their own preconceptions.
I had been eyeing this book for a while on Amazon, but the fact that I didn’t know what a mercer was (and didn’t want to look it up) was off-putting…until I remembered how much I enjoyed the other Mary Kingswood series I had read (Sons of the Marquess) and put off my dilly-dallying. This book was engrossing from the first page. James Plummer is a terrible rector, spending his days hunting and fishing while his hardworking curate tends to the parish–and being ever so charming while he’s lazing about. Julia is a klutz, but a clever one with a sharp eye for dishonest servants and ironic comments. James indolent reasons for proposing get exactly what they deserve–a refusal! The real fun begins as James discovers that his heart is far more in play than he had previously realized and that he needs to become a better man if he will ever deserve Julia Fletcher.
The supporting characters are well-drawn and fascinating in their own right: the dough-faced sister with eyes like currants who is obsessed with infants, the bosomy neighbor who is determined to secure the rector for herself, the odd child with a make-believe friend whom she brings to dinner every night, the tortured older brother who cannot bear failing his father’s expectations…and a dozen more delightful characters who all deserve books of their own.
This tale of old and new money is a delight for anyone who loves a clean, romantic Regency with both a clever plot and larger than life characters. Recommended.
“As Christians, we should turn the other cheek.”
“I am sorry to fall short of your high standards, my friend, but I have never been a very good clergyman, and clearly I am not a very good Christian either, for I feel only the Old Testament will do for this occasion. An eye for an eye, Thomas, and a tooth for a tooth. I intend to have a friendly word with Mrs. Reynell. Would you like to come and watch? You can defend me if she sets about me with a candelabrum.”– A Winter Chase by Mary Kingswood
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