I’ve thought about this quite a bit, and I’ve come up with the only plausible reason we American chicks so adore tales of the lives, lusts and loves of those precocious Peers of the Realm: Spanking.
Oh, not all that Monty Pythonesque, slap-me-a-tickle-while-I wear-my-wife’s-knickers foolishness. I mean, specifically, the Revolutionary spanking we gave the Redcoats before we sent ‘em hieing back across the Pond.
The Brits subsequently spent scores of decades not-so-innocently lying in wait to exact revenge, refining those sexy accents, coming up with clever ways to utter ordinary nonsense in what they inexplicably term, “English,” and all the while planning the invasions which would fell the largest part of the American population in ways deceptively simple, seductive and devious: Cadbury Chocolate; The Beatles; Regency romance.
But we ever-resourceful Yanks have successfully launched our counterattack weapon, one which not only tweaks the tip of the mighty lion’s tail – but also offers us the placeholder role of the American Regency lover’s dreams: the wide-eyed, terribly earnest, yet nobody’s-demmed-fool American Ingénue. Sabrina Jeffries introduces those of you not familiar with this feisty-yet-vulnerable heroine in the energetic, heartwarming and delightfully naughty kick-off to her new Hellions of Halstead Hall series, “The Truth About Lord Stoneville .”
Strong-willed, yet fairly naïve, New Englander Maria Butterfield is searching a London brothel for her missing fiancé when she’s caught between a rock and a hard-bodied lord who thinks she’s a con artist, but whom offers her a Devil’s deal not to turn her over to authorities.
Oliver, Lord Stoneville, believes strongly encouraging – albeit w/the threat of gaol -- the sword-wielding, lovely Maria to pose as his fiancée serves the greater good. His grandmother wants him and his four young sibs to wed w/in a year, or she’ll cut them off. Stoneville’s sure bringing home an unacceptable American from a brothel will cure Gran of her ill-conceived plan, and allow him to return to his regularly scheduled profligacy.
Yet – as in any good Regency rake/feisty virgin tale – Maria’s simply not hard wired to allow the folks around her to go to rack and ruin, and despite his best efforts, Stoneville finds her no-nonsense morality’s putting a serious damper on his enjoyment of vice. So turning to her to make up the deficit makes oh, so much delicious sense – until he’s thwarted at every turn by unexpected adversaries.
Maria’s not immune to Stoneville’s appeal – and certainly is fond of his charming siblings. Yet she can’t help but see more in Stoneville than he does – and wonder what’s motivating his grandmother’s seemingly draconian plans.
It will be a joy to find out what Jeffries has in store for each of the Hellions of Halstead Hall as the series unfolds. I’m hoping she’ll come up with a couple of Maria’s long-lost female cousins, or something, to keep the rest of Stoneville’s bros on their toes – and make excellent cohorts for his sharp-shooting and gothic-novel-penning sisters.
What do you like about the American Ingénue? Why does the introduction of an American heroine into a Regency appeal? What do you love about Sabrina Jeffries’ novels?