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?

Michelle Buonfiglio is an advocate for romance authors, readers and the industry.  Catch her daily posts here at BN's H2H and RomanceBuytheBook.com, and Tuesdays at BN's Unabashedly Bookish.

by Moderator becke_davis on ‎01-22-2010 02:49 PM

Well, bear in mind I haven't been reading historicals nearly as long as I've read other sub-genres of romance. But I think American heroines work well because they aren't bound by the same conventions, so they can be a little shocking and still get away with it.

by Author Sabrina_Jef on ‎01-22-2010 04:32 PM

Wow, Michelle, what a lovely review! And a great blog, too. Glad you liked the book.


I agree with Becke--I think some of it is the fact that they were more out there than the Brits. Some American heiresses later became quite popular in English society (though they were also gossiped about as a bit vulgar). And there may be a bit of a living-in-the-shoes of the heroine factor--we want those Brit guys for ourselves, and we think that if they just knew US, they'd fall head over heels. *G* 


For me as a writer, it's fun to play with the differing perspectives of the two countries. America is STILL just so young and brash compared to our ancestor Britain that it's like watching a teenager thumb his nose at boring old Dad and knowing that neither Dad nor the teen are entirely right.

by bookgril46 on ‎01-22-2010 05:00 PM

I think you are correct an American heroine is not expected to know the rules that govern the lives of young ladies of the ton so she can get away with a lot. I loved the dinner scene in “The Truth About Lord Storyville” when Maria did not know which spoon to use for her soup.   The American heroine is usually extremely naïve, very moral, and in many cases searching for someone; allowing our hero to “save” her.  I think all of us Americans are looking for that knight in shinning armor and if he has a British accent so much the better! Sabrina Jeffries is one of my favorite authors; her characters are interesting, her heroes are redeemable rakehells, her books are fun to read, and she gives us tiny tidbits regarding the lives of characters from other books.  In this book I was happy to find out that Charlotte and Kirkwood were going to have a baby.  Typing that comment made me realize once again how real her characters are and how much I like them.

by Moderator dhaupt on ‎01-22-2010 05:09 PM

Michelle, I've gotta read this one especially after the caught between the rock and the hard bodied lord part.


We if those earlier American Ingeunes are any thing like their contemporary counterparts ie me, they fall for those accents first and foremost and of course those muscles under that all to feminine frockcoat.

Sabrina, I haven't read The Truth about Lord Stoneville yet, but I loved Wed him before you Bed Him.


by Author MonicaBurns on ‎01-23-2010 08:37 AM

I don't care whether its the Pirate Lord, In the Prince's Bed or a new book by Sabrina. I LOVE whatever she writes. Her historical voice is wonderful. I've been a diehard fan for years. That and she's incredibly funny with her wicked sense of humor.

by amyskf on ‎01-25-2010 10:21 AM

I love Sabrina's books too, and can't wait to read this one. I love an American ingenue, because it better suits moi as a perfect placeholder, I never could get the British accent down.

by Author MonicaBurns on ‎01-25-2010 11:47 AM

Oh, and I forgot to say that I LOVE the cover! That teal color is awesome, not to mention it's a reverse clinche cover with the heroine ripping off the guy's clothes. LOVE THAT!! :smileyhappy:

by PrincessBumblebee on ‎01-25-2010 06:28 PM

bookgirl46, my sentaments exactly! I love that the American heroine is stepping into a society that is so strictured and she is so NOT, and she comes off as more refreshing than the others to me because of that lack of strictures. Love it!

Sabrina, I am a big fan and simply love all of your books. All of  your characters soon become friends and your stories are fast-paced, funny, and delighfully unexpected. Keep up the good work!

QB, funny you should say 'Spanking' in reference to the Brits. I just found out last p.m., actually, that you do NOT say that in England unless you mean...well, spanking in the bedroom,hehe. Or, so one of my friends learned on a trip across the pond recently, hehe. Therefore, I think you might be right about those Brits, hehe.


Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.