25 Jul 2016

New Release- An Elegant Facade, Kristi Ann Hunter

Hawthorne House #2, 368 Pages 
Bethany House, 5th July 2016
Print, Ebook and Audio 

Lady Georgina Hawthorne has worked tirelessly to seal her place as the Incomparable for her debut season. At her first London ball, she hopes to snag the attention of an earl.
With money and business connections, but without impeccable bloodlines, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere but accepted nowhere.

When he first encounters the fashionable Lady Georgina, he's irritated by his attraction to a woman who concerns herself only with status and appearance.
What Colin doesn't know is that Georgina's desperate social aspirations are driven by the shameful secret she harbors. Association with Colin McCrae is not part of Georgina's plan, but as their paths continue to cross, they both must decide if the realization of their dreams is worth the sacrifices they must make.
I had some reservations about the last book in this trilogy, which was the story of Miranda, the eldest sister of the four aristocratic Hawthorne siblings, story although I enjoyed it overall. This was less about the espionage, and more about the young debutante trying to hide a secret which would make her out as a social failure. She had dyslexia, which prevented her from reading more than a few sentences, or being able to write legibly.

Honestly, I loved this book quite a lot more than the first. Georgina, the female protagonist is like marmite- you either love her or hate her, and I absolutely loved her! Yes, she was mercenary, manipulative and shallow, but there was something endearing about her. Perhaps it was her vulnerability or determination. Perhaps because I have some experience of dyslexia I sort of identified with Georgina's eccentricities and frustration.

The story follows Georgina's attempts to find a husband, and how her path crosses with Colin McRae, the Scottish businessman who has dealings with her family, and just does seem to keep appearing. As motives and social engagements clash, Colin and Georgina motives, personalities and secrets must be confronted so they can face their families, and discover the true meaning of love. The banter and rivalry between the two of them provided plenty of humour and character exploration, and when voice of Georgina's conscience manifesting as a 'Tiny Colin in her head' was a stroke of genius.

There was romance, inevitably, but it was not too mushy. The characters don't really even confront their feelings for each other until the end. Perhaps it was a bit forced, as some have suggested. The religious content was not overdone (again a little bit forced at the end), and Georgina's struggles to work out how she felt about God seemed credible enough.

My only real complaint is that as with the last book, there were a lot of Americanisms in the character's speech and the narration. Not as many as last time admittedly, and 'biggies' seem to have been avoided, but some did annoy me. A character at one point said 'Should I write him back’? when a native Brit would have said 'Should I write back to him'.
It might seem like nit-picking, but phrases like that just don't fit into the settings, and make the writing seem clunky and unnatural.
Also, the characters seemed to be continually eating their breakfast with just a fork, like Americans, rather than a knife and fork as would have been normal in polite British society, and is still the norm over here.

This complaint aside, An Elegant Facade was a pleasant and cleverly written Regency, exploring some interesting and unusual subjects, and important themes with sensitivity. At the same time, it was not too deep and the tone remained witty and light-hearted for the most part. Recommended for Regency fans.

I received a free e-book from Netgalley, and a print copy of this book from the publisher and their UK distributor for the purposes of writing a review. I was not required to write a positive one and all opinions expressed are my own.

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