Review by Iola Goulton @iolagoulton
I'm a long-time Regency romance fan. I can't remember when I read my first Georgette Heyer novel, but I remember reading and rereading many of the 1990s reprints. I loved the humour and intelligence, and the trials of falling in love in an age where male-female relationships were strictly regimented.
I watched the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice when it first showed on TV. I rewatched the series a couple of years later when my husband bought me the videos for Christmas (and discovered that TVNZ had cut almost an hour of footage in order to get more ads in). I then bought and read all Jane Austen's novels—more humour, more intelligence, and more difficulties in finding true love. I also loved the settings and the clothes (and Julia Sawalha, aka Saffy from Absolutely Fabulous).
Regency romance has had a resurgence of popularity in recent years, but many of the general market novels have a lot of sex and not much Christian faith—which seems at odds with the period. So it's good to see more Regency romance coming out of the Christian market, from authors such as Julie Klaassen, Kristi Ann Hunter, and now Carolyn Miller.
Miss Serena's Secret is Carolyn Miller's fifth novel, and the second in her Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope series. If you've read the others, you'll enjoy catching up with some of the characters from the previous stories. If you haven't, don't worry: this is a standalone novel.
Despite the title, Miss Serena actually has several secrets.These secrets combine to persuade her that she will never marry. She will especially not marry a man like her father, a gambler who lost their fortune at the tables. So she is not impressed when she meets gambler and womaniser Lord Henry Carmichael.
This is a sweet and slow love story. It's not the romance novel where we meet the hero and heroine and wham bam they're together. Instead, both characters have plenty of time to get to know each other and to change—to mature into people who are able to fall in love and contemplate marriage.
Miss Serena is an artist, and her art plays a key part in the novel. I'm no painter, but I loved the painting references—the colours, the techniques, and the little upset at the Royal Academy's Summer Exhibition.
Recommended for Regency romance fans.
Thanks to Kregel Publications and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
About Iola Goulton
Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).
Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, and currently works as a freelance editor. When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading or writing her next book review. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (not far from Hobbiton) with her husband, two teenagers and one cat. She is currently working on her first novel.