Monday, May 14, 2018

Lady Vivian (Almack's Assembly Rooms #1), by Agnes Forest

May 2018

Lady Vivian Ravenswood, youngest of the Ravenswood daughters and the only one still unmarried, is being courted by Lord Phillip Lockfield. He's wealthy and handsome, but cold and domineering. Vivian has no wish to marry him, but given the collapse of the family finances, she's not going to get much choice.

Then in her first visit to Almack's, she encounters Lieutenant Sawyer Cook, a war hero, and a very different personality. They meet again while Vivian and her chaperone are out riding, and Sawyer has become separated from the rest of his hunt, in pursuit of a fox.

What follows is a very entertaining courtship, with just enough trials and tribulation to keep things interesting.

Sawyer, Vivian, chaperone Fanny (I don't recall her last name), and assorted other characters are likable and interesting. Lord Phillip and some of Sawyer's friends, less so. Overall, It's a fun, light book.

Which makes it a bit petty of me to have a few complaints.

We're told Sawyer Cook is a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, just returned from what we now call the War of 1812, though of course it wasn't called that in England at the time. That's a war with lots of opportunities for Sawyer to have served in naval combat.

At no point are we told the name of any ship, real or fictional, that Sawyer is supposed to have served on. No naval battles are mentioned. Sawyer is consistently called a soldier, not a sailor, and he is described as having fought in several land battles, including the Battle of New Orleans.

This is not the war record of a lieutenant in the Royal Navy.

There's also the small matter of the fox hunt. Sawyer and Vivian meet for the second time the morning after their meeting at Almack's, when Sawyer is out fox hunting a commercial hunting establishment not far from Vivian's home.

The fox hunting season began the day after the end of the London Season, August 12--or if that was a Sunday, August 13. Sawyer and his friends couldn't go fox hunting the day after an evening at Almack's.

I can't find any evidence of commercial fox hunting in Regency England, with the proprietor of the hunt bringing a caged fox to release for the hounds to chase. That's a modern canned hunt. The English upper crust in Regency times was still doing real fox hunting, on their own lands. That's why it was the sport of the wealthy; you had to have extensive lands of your own, or friends with extensive lands, to indulge in it at all. The canned hunt Sawyer participates in may be based on insufficient research and an assumption that fox hunting can't really have changed much. A real, period-accurate fox hunt would have served just as well--except that, as noted above, it couldn't have happened the day after an Almack's assembly while the Season was still in progress.

These are really eye-rolling errors, but they don't, for me, kill the ability to enjoy the story. I like the characters and their courtship. Nothing that happens between the characters is impossible or outrageously wrong for the period, and it's fun to see them get together.

But if these are the errors that will wreck it for you, be aware.

If, like me, the characters are usually what matters to you and errors that don't affect the story are ignorable, enjoy! It's a fun story.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the author, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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