by Jane Ashford
Pub. Date: Aug. 4, 2015 (re-release)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
A MATCHLESS DILEMMA
Sir Justin Keighley was everything that repelled Margaret Mayfield in a man. He was shocking in his opinions, arrogant in his manner, rude in his actions, and completely without respect for the common decencies of civilized society.
Margaret was everything that Sir Justin detested in a woman. She was shy, retiring, obedient to her parents, almost embarrassed by her own beauty, and ignorant of virtually every phase of real life in the real world.
Needless to say, they both did everything in their power to escape being matched with each other. Somehow everything was not enough....
A Radical Arrangement is a re-release from Jane Ashford, having originally been published in 1983. It looks like Ms. Ashford is releasing a good number of her books with new covers - though I am not sure if any re-writing is being done. I do like the new cover - its much more visually appealing than the first edition. And while Ms. Ashford has been writing for a long time, she is a new-to-me author.
I enjoyed this book, but it dragged for me and felt much longer than its 288-ish pages. I just couldn't connect with the characters for some reason. I think its because I am so unlike Margaret Mayfield, the heroine. Margaret starts off the story as a painfully naive and uninformed dishwater miss - she has no opinions of her own and believes everything her parents tell her. I never connect with this type of heroine, so from the beginning I found myself wanting to thump Margaret in the head in the hopes that her brain would wake up.
Margaret's mother, who does not agree with Sir Justin Keighley's radical political views, has instilled the ridiculous opinion on Margaret that a radical is a evil blackguard. This causes Margaret to act like an utter fool by running away from Justin like he was going to ravish her - and when she trips over her feet and knocks herself unconscious, it looks like he has done just that. So of course the ridiculous Mayfields try to force a marriage on the pair.
When Margaret runs away, Justin feels he must go after her and this leads to the main story plot. I won't discuss that part here so I don't give any spoilers. But, over the course of the adventure, away from the stifling influence of her parents, Margaret does come into her own and becomes a more tolerable heroine.
As for our hero, I liked Justin but I would have liked to know more about him. The only aspect we learn of his nature/character is that he has what were consider radical political views by his contemporaries in London. These views were the underlying premise or moral of the book, and involved the plight of the poor and laborers who were seeking a voice/vote in the government. While we are made aware of the issue, we don't see either Margaret or Justin doing anything about it. So it's just kind of floating out there with no attempt at resolution. I would have liked to see either of them take a more active role in the social issues.
I received an free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I recommend it to fans of clean and sweet historical romance.
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About the Author
Nancy Jane LeCompte was born in 20 August 1948 in Eaton, Ohio, USA. She discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was entranced by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight was part of what led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. She has lived in New York, Boston and LA, her writing life punctuated by breaks where the fates intervened and swept her off in different directions. Today, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Jane has written historical and contemporary romances as Jane Ashford and Jane LeCompte. Her books have been published in England, Spain, France, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Russia, and Latvia, as well as the U.S. She is a two-time nominee for a Career Achievement Award by Romantic Times Magazine. Away from romance writing for several years, she recently completed a new historical.