Disclaimer: An Uncommon Courtship, by Kristi Ann Hunter, was provided by Bethany House. I received a free copy. No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.
When her mother’s ill-conceived marriage trap goes awry, Lady Adelaide Bell unwittingly finds herself bound to a stranger who ignores her. Lord Trent Hawthorne, who had grand plans to marry for love, is even less pleased with the match. Can they set aside their first impressions before any chance of love is lost?
My rating: 4/5
An interesting and unique take on a marriage of convenience, An Uncommon Courtship returns to the familiar setting of the previous books in the Hawthorne House series (though explains enough that newcomers will not be lost), this time telling Trent’s story.
Perhaps not every reader will enjoy the shy, shrinking Adelaide, but I thoroughly enjoyed her—I’m tired of confident, “I know what I want” female protagonists who are as interesting as a brown paper bag. Adelaide is both as insecure as her upbringing would create and as assertive as her new situation would start her to be, in a good display of character development overall. Trent, with all of his questions and lack of confidence, was also a good character. Oftentimes male characters in these sorts of books seem a little too wise; Trent’s confusion was a nice change of pace.
I also appreciated Hunter’s take on the convenient marriage plot; while perhaps being a little too obvious about giving marital advice, some good questions and answers were raised in a context where a majority of people are often curiously silent. Marriage in books like these tends to be treated as the ultimate destination, the ultimate summation of happiness, and maybe it is, but Trent and Adelaide’s journey seemed to me to show the hidden side of it, with its struggles, conflicts, and emotions. So, kudos to Hunter for changing it up from her first two books (and the novella) and showing something that I, at least, have never really seen before.
There’s one last unmarried Hawthorne left, and I’m curious to see if Hunter will write a final book for Griffith. That would be an interesting read, I think, so I hope she does.
An Uncommon Courtship, while not as fascinating or as gripping as I found An Elegant Façade, is a unique take on the marriage of convenience, dealing with marital guidance and how to communicate with someone you barely know, among other things. Adelaide and Trent had good characterization, and while I wish some of the other characters weren’t so underdeveloped and one-dimensional (such as Adelaide’s mother and sister, who started out the series as gossiping golddiggers and remain so three books later), I have really enjoyed Hunter’s Hawthorne House series despite that.
Disclaimer: An Elegant Façade, by Kristi Ann Hunter, was provided by Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.
Lady Georgina Hawthorne has always known she must marry well. After years of tirelessly planning every detail of her debut season, she is posed to be a smashing success and have her choice of eligible gentlemen. With money and powerful business connections but no title, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere by accepted nowhere. He intends to marry someday, but when he does it will not be to a shallow woman like Lay Georgina, whose only concerns appear to be status and appearance. But beneath her flawless exterior, Georgina’s social aspirations stem from a shameful secret she is desperately trying to keep hidden—and that Colin is too close to discovering. Drawn to each other despite their mutual intent to avoid association, is the realization of their dreams worth the sacrifices they’ll be forced to make?
When I first started reading An Elegant Façade, I thought that I would probably enjoy it but that overall it would be another generic (and maybe even clichéd) historical romance. Then, Kristi Ann Hunter introduced an issue that I’ve never seen a Regency novel do (and very few contemporary novels, for that matter): dyslexia.
Dyslexia is difficult enough today, but Hunter captures perfectly how devastating it would be to have it in the Regency period, when a woman’s worth was determined by 1.) her dowry and 2.) her ability to run a household. Georgina is carefully and elegantly written, and every aspect of her character made sense to me, right down to her frustration and her thoughts about God. The romance, though bobbling slightly here and there, is also written well in light of Georgina’s dyslexia and it helps that Colin is almost as interesting as Georgina.
My one small quibble is that Georgina’s insistence that she didn’t want anyone helping her understand Bible passages was played as a strong, good thing to do but felt wrong to me, as if Hunter was dismissing the benefits of having someone wiser help you (especially if you’re just reading the Bible for the first time!). It’s probably not what Hunter meant, but in my opinion Georgina should have gone to someone right at that moment. Her character didn’t need that showing of independence (and, realistically, I think it would actually be more harmful for her, from the things revealed about her).
An Elegant Façade combines interesting characters, good writing, and one of my favorite settings (Regency England) for a delightful, heartwarming story that addresses a topic little spoken of (and especially not in Regency novels). The topic is dealt with respectfully but also in a way that resonates in the setting and in Georgina herself. The romance is also well-done, and overall the book is quite an enjoyable read.