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The Village Spinster by Laura Matthews
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The Village Spinster

by Laura Matthews

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Next on the list is [The Village Spinster] by [[Laura Matthews]]. While this one was an improvement over [Plain Jane] by [[Marion Chesney]] and [Beth] by [[Barbara Hazard]], it was disappointing (again with the frown!) in comparison to her other works. I like [The Seventh Suitor] a great deal (definitely in my top ten Regency romance list), and [Holiday in Bath] is charming. This story does have its moments, though, and is a bit of a romp.

Our heroine Clarissa Driscoll has come down in the world. In the wake of her late father's gambling debts (to the neighboring landowner and father of our hero), she is forced to leave the fine family manor and take up residence in a local village cottage. She supports herself in large part by giving lessons to the younger half-siblings and wards of the current Earl of Kinsford, our hero. As a lady by breeding and training, she has all of the necessary accomplishments to rely on: dancing, drawing, music, etc. The brother and sister are teenagers with little parental supervision since their mother is a shut in hypochondriac and their older brother is too busy with his political career in London, so they get into some trouble. The Earl of Kinsford comes home and immediately butts head with Clarissa, since he feels she's meddling and maybe even coddling his wards.

The romance basically consists of pissing matches between the two of them as the earl tries to exert his authority and the spinster dances between asserting herself and not offending the person who is essentially her patron. There is an obligatory sprained ankle and concussion (of his half-sister) that forces them to keep interacting with each other, as the injured girl cannot be moved for a few days after the accident, and guess whose cottage was closest. Moreover, the girl decides to play matchmaker and hams up her head injury to keep them interacting. Throw in a distant (married) male cousin who keeps dropping by to visit Clarissa and consequent jealousy of Kinsford, combined with residual guilt that her current impoverishment is the result of his father's actions, and this book is all about negative emotions and fiery dialogue. I must say the climactic scene is hilarious, with every character in the story (a total of 8) ending up in the cottage together for a variety of reasons. The dialogue was well-written, even if the characters were annoying, and the pace certainly moved along. Overall, an okay read but not a keeper. ( )
  justchris | Aug 5, 2009 |
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Clarissa Driscoll teaches accomplishments to the children of the gentry. But she was once the Earl of Kinsford's equal in society, and she refuses to let him browbeat her. If Clarissa is a tad eccentric, well, the earl is a bit overbearing. These two strong wills make sparks fly. Regency Romance by Laura Matthews; originally published by Signet… (more)

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