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An Untitled Lady by Nicky Penttila
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An Untitled Lady

by Nicky Penttila

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Showing 5 of 5
Apart from the obvious plot line; a typical female trying to fight her station in life; this novel does have a decent plot line setting much of the action during the historical period of the Peterloo massacre which enhances the underlying tones of change and turmoil that each of the main characters is experiencing. (At the time of reading I did not realise this was a real event). Interestingly we see what happens to the second born son of nobility. How they have to forge their way in life, and the prejudices they have to deal with.

The tale is, by its very nature, formulaic; and, of course there is a villain (as there always is in these novels). But the setting, the characters and plot all mesh together creating an intriguing read.

Although the main characters are well developed, this reader had difficulty liking either of them. For most of the book these two were not even conversing with each other! Indeed there are so many minor characters this it was a bit confusing. What I did enjoy was her participation in the ‘massacre’ itself which was nail bitingly good.

That said though, this reader did feel that the political aspects of the book took over from the romance aspect. If you want an historical book about the political aspects of the industrial revolution write one. If you want an historical romance write one; but putting both in the same book means each aspect is not written to its full potential and thereby gives for a poorer read.

Some of the language used in the book clearly shows that the author is American. For instance when the hero was in the kitchen talking about supper there was a mention of biscuits; now is that a cookie biscuit or a roll/scone biscuit? The author also states that the season was fall; in the UK we call that season autumn. While these errors don’t really detract from the story if you are going to use the UK as your base please, please, please ensure that you use the correct terminology.

Overall the book is an intriguing read but if you are looking for a fluffy historical romance this is not the book for you.

Full Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley for an honest review. ( )
  anuttyquilter | Mar 21, 2015 |
In this summary the author tell you it's "not a traditional regency." And it's true, it's not. This book in many ways reminded me a bit of North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. It takes place in a northern town where factory and mills are run. The characters are surrounded by workers on whom their lives depend. However there are problems between the masters and their workers.

The two main characters are Nash and Madeline. Nash is the second son of an earl. He chose a life of trade over any other occupation. He's a true bachelor and lives to work. Madeline is an orphan who learns a pretty shocking truth that leaves her reeling. She has few options to her, and they're not what she expected her life to be. She chooses to marry Nash and be a helpmate to him.

Many of the truths that Madeline learns in this story is that she was adopted and that her birth father still lives. But he's a radical. Her father and her husband are on different political sides. Madeline feels torn between these two worlds. She lives in a time when women had little say over their lives.

I found this book to be a fascinating read. While it focuses on the lives of Madeline and Nash there is a heavy dose of realism for the time period they live. The author deals with the women's suffrage movement, politics, and fair labor. The author doesn't gloss over these trials and tribulations of the time. She puts her characters through the wringer. Some things end happily while others don't. This is an enjoyable story to read. It's not your traditional Regency, but it's definitely worth reading!
Read more at http://www.2readornot2read.com/2014/01/review-untitled-lady.html#DYIRLeW2WY0255W...
  mt256 | Jan 25, 2014 |
I was taken by surprise more than once while reading this book, for it is both a Regency romance and a beefy historical novel of early 19th century Manchester. For anyone who tends to dismiss historical romances, hear me out before passing on this one!

The novel opens with a ludicrous plot thread that seems typical to romances: young Madeline Wetherby arrives at Shaftsbury Castle to marry the new Earl, Deacon Quinn, having grown up being told by Deacon's father that she was his intended. Her arrival is not greeted with enthusiasm, however, for her expectation comes as a stunning surprise to the Quinn family. None have heard of this engagement, and the louche Deacon is loathe to marry Maddie. Worse, Maddie learns her background is not what she was told and she has nothing to her name nor any prospects. Deacon's younger brother Nash, a prosperous Manchester merchant, marries Maddie instead, wooed by familial obligation, a tiny bit of guilt, and a cash gift from Deacon. (While this might feel spoiler-y, this, and more, is revealed in the book blurb.)

Although the basic start of the novel has the kind of will-they-or-won't-they fall in love tension one expects from a romance novel, the story really settles into a more rich, complicated plot: found family versus blood family, loyalty to class and one's social station, the changing of 'traditional' industry to 'modern' industry. Manchester in 1819 is a time of tumult and change, as the city chafes under lack of political representation in Parliament, and labor unions are forming an organizing, much to the panic and horror of the merchants and peers.

Penttila's novel is rich with historical detail, ranging from clothes to landscape to the political temperature among various individuals. The strength of this novel lies in the scope of the action rather than the relationship between Nash and Maddie. (Maddie, I'm sorry to say, was not a favorite character of mine; she had great potential and I loved her go-getting attitude, but at times she did things that made me put down the book in frustration!)

Still, even with my conflicted feelings for Maddie, this novel was engrossing and rich. I have to confess, there were moments this book reminded me of Thomas Hardy! Penttila's narrative style has a kind of dramatic flair to it that, when combined with Maddie's plight, made me think of the big, boisterous novels of the Victorian era that tackle social issues and romance with ease.

For those who like historicals that examine huge, sweeping issues of the day through the viewpoint of one or two characters, this is for you. Anyone intrigued by the Regency era, but eager for a setting outside of London and focused on people beyond the ton, this is for you. ( )
  unabridgedchick | Jan 10, 2014 |
Madeline Wetherby is called back to the town where she grew up by the Earl of Shaftsbury but he has died before he can put his plans into place. He has been paying for Madeline's education - he is her godfather - and he has had her trained to help run the estate so she can marry his son. But his son, the new Earl wants nothing to do with her. Madeline also learns some unsettling things about her family and now finds herself adrift as she is no longer to be a countess but she has no other skills. A solution is found but will it be the answer to her prayers?

It is a time of great unrest in Manchester, England, as machines start to take over the jobs men had been performing for years. The business owners are firing workers and depressing wagers and the workers just want an honest wage for their day's work. The city is a powder keg and Madeline finds herself in the middle.

I could tell while reading An Untitled Lady that the novel was well researched and Ms. Penttila does an excellent job of immersing her reader into the boiling pot that was Manchester in the time of the industrial revolution. The characters are drawn from all aspects of society of the time; the aristocracy, the merchant class and the working poor. The class system in England was rigid and women especially were held to very strict standards. By using her characters Ms. Pentilla really shows just how hard it was for the women of the time to simply exist. One small error and a woman could be "ruined" forever - even by something not of her control.

I did feel at times that the political aspects of the book overtook all other story lines to the point where I was a bit annoyed. I understood what the fight was about. I understood who was fighting it. I didn't need to hear it umpteen times. Madeline was also one of the more maddening heroines I've read in a while. But I suppose that given her circumstances and the times (I'm not spoiling any plot points) she felt she needed to do what she did. But at times I wanted to shake her!

An Untitled Lady was an enjoyable read covering important events in the history of labor with a satisfying romance woven throughout. ( )
  BrokenTeepee | Jan 7, 2014 |
Shocking family news forces Madeline Wetherby to abandon her plans to marry an earl and settle for upstart Manchester merchant Nash Quinn. When she discovers that her birth father is one of the weavers her husband is putting out of work—and a radical leader—Maddie must decide which family she truly desires, the man of her heart or the people of her blood.

An earl’s second son, Nash chose a life of Trade over Society. When protest marches spread across Lancashire, the pressure on him grows. If he can’t make both workers and manufacturers see reason he stands to lose everything: his business, his town, and his marriage.

As Manchester simmers under the summer sun, the choices grow more stark for Maddie and Nash: Family or justice. Love or money. Life or death

Obtained in ebook format from www.netgalley.com, read on an ipad using kindle software.

I went into reading this book thinking it was a “classic” (Mills and Boon) romance story but soon realised that it was much more than that – and for the better.

Maddie has been brought up to marry the 1st son (Deacon) of her godfather, only to find herself rejected not only as the wife of an Earl, but as a Weatherby (she finds out she was adopted as a child). With no money, family or prospects, she agrees to marry Deacon’s younger brother Nash, who works in Trade in Manchester. It’s only when she arrives at her new home does she realise what it means to live in a manufacturing city house, rather than a country side estate – and what it means to be a wife.

Nash meanwhile has to deal with a wife who appears to not love him, and unwilling to perform her wifely duties in the bedroom (and acts oddly when she does). He also has to deal with the fact that there is discontent in the workers, where there are rumours of strike action and sedition to protest over lost wages and poverty (whilst the business men are living in palatial houses on the hill).

The rest of the story deals with the run up to Peterloo, the massacre of members of the crowd gathered in St Peter’s Field, Manchester to protest the need for reform and suffrage for all. Nash tries to balance between being a magistrate, a man of business, and trying to do the right thing for his workers. It doesnt help that his wife is seeking out a sense of belonging with her newly found family – and whose father is one of the men leading the protesters. Their marriage is at an all time low just before the final meeting, which splits the two apart, Maddie making the only choice she thinks available to her.

I did pick up on a couple of words which were a little jarring. Thankfully the author didnt attempt a Mancunian dialect, which can be very hard to both write and read BUT….I was almost prepared to ignore the use of the word “biscuit” when Quinn was in the kitchen to talk about supper. (Was this the *proper* use of the word biscuit – American “Cookie”- or the American usage as in “biscuits and gravy” – i.e. something akin to a scone or bap?). It did pull me up on it enough to check where the author is from (yes, she’s American). It was a small thing, not necessarily relevant to the progression of the story, but the author had done well to this point and it would be a shame to let it spoil the story. However, then came the use of “Fall” instead of “Autumn”. Sharp intake of breath! Time for a quick glance over the MS by the Europe editor?

Anyway, yes, these bits were small in the grand scheme of things, and shouldn’t spoil the story, which certainly was no standard M&B romp – in a good way! It took me several days to read, and required me to pay attention all way, which I gladly did.
  nordie | Oct 23, 2013 |
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