I haven't done any book reviews on my blog before, but I have plans to change that. So look for more reviews in the days and weeks to come.
For my first ever book review, I will be sharing my thoughts and feelings on Miss Delacourt Has Her Day by Heidi Ashworth. In all fairness to anyone reading this, I have to disclose that my wife and I were given a copy of the book as a gift. While Heidi and I have never met "in real life", I consider her a friend. Also, my name appears in the acknowledgements of the book because one of the characters uses a poem I wrote to reassure his true love that she is, indeed, the one for him. So while I have every reason to be biased here, I will be honest and objective.
I don't read romances. I don't like them. I'm more of a fantasy, science fiction, thriller type of guy. Before my dear wife "met" Heidi online, I had never even heard the term regency romance, much less ever read one.
Now I can say I have read a grand total of two regency romance books, the first of which was Miss Delacourt Speaks Her Mind. I really ought to review that one as well. To be perfectly honest with you, the only reason I ever read it in the first place was because Rebecca and I knew Heidi via blogging and I thought it would be cool to read a book written by someone I kind of knew. In a nutshell:
I. Loved. It.
Even though I don't like reading romance novels, and despite the fact that I am totally unschooled in the conventions of regency romance and had to focus on practically every bit of dialogue in the book in order to understand what I was reading, I fell head-over-heels completely in love with the book and the characters in it. So even if I Heidi hadn't included my poem in the book, I would have wanted to read it. In fact, I read Miss Delacourt Has Her Day before Rebecca did. That was because she decided to do that thing women sometimes do and saved reading the book as a reward for doing something she needed to get done. Whatever. I took advantage of the rare opportunity to read a book we're both interested in first and dove right in.
I. Loved. It.
I still struggled with occasionally not understanding why some things characters said were considered impolite or had weighty significance, but that's ok. Like I said, regency romances are not my thing. Still, Heidi's style of writing is charming, engaging, and so much fun to read. The characters from the previous novel, while already familiar, showed growth and evolution from the previous novel. This is something I expect to find in a sequel and was not disappointed. The characters are all very well defined and came to life right before my eyes.
The dialogue in Miss Delacourt Has Her Day is witty and engaging. I loved the banter between characters. While some of it was completely over my head, it was well written and moved the story along splendidly. I think this is one area in which the book really shines.
If there was any aspect of the book that I thought could have been better, it would be the plot. While not the most compelling action I have ever read, it was still more than sufficient to advance the story and resolve the issues the characters faced. It wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination--far from it--but maybe, being a regency romance, the action isn't the focus of the book. Maybe the genre is more character- and relationship-driven. I don't know. This isn't my usual fare. Like I said earlier, I'm used to fantasy, science fiction, etc. I suspect that my opinion here has more to do with my literary preferences (and that Y-chromosome) than anything else. That said, the characters were so lovable that I really didn't care. I tore through the last half of the book and closed it feeling like Oliver Twist. Please, Heidi. Could we have some more?
There were parts of the novel where I laughed out loud, which is not a common occurrence for me. The fact that I was amused means I was able to become fully engaged and immerse myself in the story and fall in love with the characters. Considering my lack of affinity for the genre, this speaks volumes for the masterful skill with which Heidi wove this book together. I am impressed, which is something I don't say very often with the books I read. In fact, I am so impressed with Heidi's writing that I will eagerly read anything she publishes. This places Heidi Ashworth firmly among the elite ranks of my favorite authors.