Sunday, 26 April 2015

Book Review: The Paradise Will by Elizabeth Hanbury

From the start of the book, you can tell that  The Paradise Will is going to be a very different kind of regency romance, something I have to say is a trend of the author, Elizabeth Hanbury. I have read all of her books now, and must say that the twists and surprises in the story make for an entertaining read.

Alyssa Paradise is the inheritor of a vast estate from the recent death of her uncle. Whilst this sounds wonderful, and is clearly a wonderful gain in a period where women were still subservient to men, there is a devilish caveat employed in the will - that Alyssa must spend time with the rather oafish Sir Giles Maxton.

If this sounds weird, it gets more strange that she must dine with him every week for six months. Twenty-four months in the company of someone you hate - perhaps hate is too strong a word, but Alyssa certainly dislikes being around Giles, even if he has a title, good looks, money and so on.

It's like her dear (now, not so dear) departed uncle has played a rather nasty trick on her.

This was one book from the start where I did not want Alyssa and Giles to get together. I thought she was far too good for him. But that would be too early to say that was how the book was going to end. This is a longish tale, so it is inevitable other characters will be introduced that will cause conflict between these two principal characters and around them.

Note: I loved the mention of Chancery Lane (I was there in April 2015) and it's just typical of Alyssa to get hamstrung by the lawyers that are in residence there!

Things are complicated further by the fact that other parties are involved. I can't imagine in today's world where a partner / fiance/e or spouse would be allowed to have dinner on such a regular basis with someone of the opposite sex, so God only knows how it would have been received back then!

Speaking with others in the story, they find it an incredible arrangement too, exclaiming "Would Tom (her uncle) want you to have dinner with some old fossil?"

These kind of lines and great humour are throughout Miss Hanbury's books, and amongst the exciting drama of her writing, it takes an author of real skill to drop in cool humour at key points.

The key driver of the book for me was not 'will they or won't they get together', it was more about how they would come to agreement over the rather preposterous instructions of the will. Fortunately, Alyssa is the best of heroines, spirited and steadfast without being overbearing or heavily opinionated.

Giles is a character one warms to, but not easily, and maybe that's the intention. I thought the regular dinners would be a source of both fun and conflict and it makes for a very enjoyable and interesting book.

I think of all of Miss Hanbury's books, this is the one with the heaviest Georgette Heyer influence, which is no bad thing. In fact, the way The Paradise Will is so masterfully crafted, it's great to know that a regency period author of great skill will entertain for many more years to come.

Alyssa is a heroine that no-one cannot fail to fall for (gosh, that's a lot of f's in one sentence!) but not because she is cherry blossom in her appeal. She's a practical girl who knows what she wants, and also what repulses her. In the end, she wants what is bequeathed to her, and no-one could blame her for the choices she makes.

My other reviews of Author Elizabeth Hanbury