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First Season [and] Bride to Be by Jane…
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First Season [and] Bride to Be

by Jane Ashford

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I should almost hate this book. Without books like this I would have given up on romance novels ages ago. But this book – these two books, actually, since it's an omnibus – was (were) quite good. I was shocked.

The first story concerns a young widow, Anabel, who never had a Season, but decides to bring her children to London and sit in on one now as her mother is sponsoring an awkward (overweight) young woman. Her dear old friend and neighbor in the country, Christopher, misses her, decides to finally tell her he loves her, and follows, by which time she has become a bit ensnared by a man with a reputation as a roué.

Those children are one of the drawbacks of the story. Anabel tells her dear old friend, "'You spoil them so, Christopher.'” Pot, meet kettle. “'Susan wants a gown exactly like this one for her birthday in September.' 'And doubtless she will get it,' answered her mother dryly." They don't like London, and they never stop making it known. And one of them has this cat … Yeah. They are kind of awful. No, they're kind of horrible.

I was a little annoyed also about the transformation of the debutante, Georgina. She "maintained her resolve to avoid chocolates and other sweets, and the effects soon became apparent. Georgina’s face looked more slender within just a few days, and her figure slowly followed" … *poof*. Within days, without extra exercise, she becomes the "after" in a Weight Watchers commercial.

This doesn't sound like I enjoyed it, does it? But the fact that I did, despite all of the above, is down to the writing. I am not without complaint there either – there was head-hopping, and lots of it, to the point that it became confusing in places; the plot took an improbably dramatic turn that had me rolling my eyes just a bit – but on the whole it was enjoyable. You can't ask for much more than that. Well, you can, but sometimes I just don't.

The second story begins with the rescue of a young man (who turns out to be Lord Richard Sheldon) by an eccentrically-brought-up young woman (Emily Crane). There's a fun back story for Lord Richard – he was a rake and hellion, but was lost at sea and presumed dead. He made it to shore and fought for his survival, and it has obviously changed him; now, coming home, he is just beginning to realize how changed his life is going to be. And not only does he have that to contend with, but apparently someone is trying to kill him.

While Emily's parents were in many ways quite awful, I did appreciate the understanding that went into the writing about the art. “Her brush swept across the paper like a bluebird’s wing, and suddenly I couldn’t see anything else.

I genuinely enjoyed the writing, and the romance. I enjoyed the novelty of Richard's story. It was a great deal of fun – both stories were.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review. ( )
  Stewartry | Feb 11, 2016 |
This is two books in one.
First Season: 1.5 Stars. I did not like this book at all. I skipped through a lot of it. The interactions between the children was too long. The heroine was awful. She came across like a teenager. She was nice but as soon as the villain started making fun of people she turned a blind idea and still wanted to marry him. The hero wasn't any better.

Bride to Be: 3 stars. This was better. Emily's parents were the highlight of the story though. Any scenes they were in were always interesting.

These are both reprints of older books so the stories seem to be representative of the time.
ARC received from Netgallery in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  karyheller | Oct 21, 2015 |
A treat!

This compilation of two early novels by Jane Ashford is a treat. Well crafted and engaging, you can see the Heyer influence, particularly in some of the secondary characters such as Emily Crane's mother. Both novels are succinctly written and still a pleasure to read more than 15-30 years on.

First Season 1983
A young widow, Lady Anabel Wyndham joins her mother for the London season. Having married at a young age she has never experienced the social whirl and gaiety of this social event. A confirmed rake, Sir Charles Norbury is attracted by Anabel's looks and conversation. Here is no simpering chit out of the school room or jaded widow. He sweeps Anabel off her feet. Much to the disgust of her young children and the chagrin of her long time friend, Christopher Hanford. Christopher has loved her from afar and been a stalwart companion in her time of need.
Christopher is determined to leave London but something is not quite right about how Anabel is with Norbury. The children take matters into their own hands bringing things to a head. Young Susan Wyndham and her cat are indeed forces to be reckoned with!

Bride to be 1999
Having parents who have shunned the life of the ton to pursue their own interests make for a different upbringing. Emily Crane certainly is an extraordinary young woman, quietly able to cope with more than her fair share of harrowing situations. When she rescues a handsome stranger from being killed she little knew that they would meet again in the ballrooms of London, and that their circumstances would enforce an engagement. Apart from feeling guilty about the engagement, Emily becomes concerned that the 'accidents' that continue to happen to Lord Richard Sheldon are more than that, and sets about investigating them. The engagement continues--just in order to find out what's going on! As Lord Richard and Emily continue their charade, both become aware of stronger feelings, which of course they hide from each other. Which leads to even more complications!

A NetGalley ARC ( )
  eyes.2c | Oct 7, 2015 |
First Season : 2 STARS
I was not a fan of this book. Quite frankly i was bored halfway into the book. I disliked the heroine , she seemed insipid,i couldnt see what the hero saw in her.

Bride to be : 3.5 Stars
A little more intriguing than the first book. I enjoyed the interactions with Emily's parents. All in all an entertaining read

THANKS TO NETGALLERY AND SOURCEBOOKS CASABLANCA FOR THIS ADVANCE PREVIEW. ( )
  invincible005 | Jul 12, 2015 |
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First season: "Widowed Lady Anabel Wyndham was married right out of the schoolroom and has never before experienced the delights of a London Season. She's dazzled by the attention of the fascinating Sir Charles Norbury, a man whose touch seems to melt her very soul, but a notorious rake. She's drawn to handsome friend-of-the-family Christopher Hanford and the comfort and serenity he offers. But how does one choose between two such charming suitors? Anabel is finding that love is so much more dangerous the second time around."--Page 4 of cover.Bride to be: "Emily Crane is the toast of the ton-and she couldn't find it more tedious. Until she encounters the darkly sensual stranger whose life she once saved and the London Season becomes infinitely more exciting. Recently returned from the wilds of South America, Lord Richard Sheldon has only contempt for tiresome London chits, but he finds himself stunningly intrigued by the dauntless Emily Crane. When the two become embroiled in a budding scandal and are forced into an engagement, they discover a passion more dangerous than any killer ..."--Page 4 of cover.… (more)

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