“The Courting Campaign” by Regina Scott came to me from Net Galley for review. It is a Love Inspired Historical from Harlequin due to be released August 6, 2013, so put it on your squeaky-clean shelf if you’re only looking for a few kisses. Set in the Regency era, it’s an interesting read with all the right elements of historical romance.
Miss Emma Pyrmont has been hired as a nanny to a precocious four-year old girl in the household of Sir Nicholas Rotherford, run by his sister-in-law, Mrs. Dunworthy. Emma is a sweet lady, with a sad childhood, who is happy to begin a new chapter in her life. She reminds me of another Emma – outspoken, a mind of her own, and scheming to bring two people together. She’s a matchmaker in another sense.
Upon early observation in her position, she discovers that Sir Nicholas is unable to connect with his daughter. He’s a philosopher and scientist driven by a mission to invent a lamp for coal miners that is safe and useful. His mind is set upon a singular path, and the world spins around him unnoticed while he hides away working. Emma, of course, finds his behavior unacceptable. She doesn’t want to see Alice, her charge, growing up feeling neglected and unloved as she once did. Her mission is one of the same, only on an emotional level. Emma’s task isn’t easy, as she also deals with the difficult Mrs. Dunworthy and a past that won’t seem to let her go.
The setting is 1815 near the Peak District, Derbyshire, England. The book is a good read. Regina Scott is a talented writer that keeps the interest of her readers. With a background in real life as a technical writer for scientists, she apparently used her knowledge to build Sir Nicholas’ character. He’s a complex man who analyzes everything around him, with a habit of tapping his finger on his thigh. At times I wanted to grab his hand and hold it still. The author goes into great length building his character and does an equally fine job with Emma. There is quite a bit of text, however, about Sir Nicholas’ quest to build a lamp that is safe for workers in the mines. Be prepared not only for his male mindset but his inventive one as well. Depending on your level of 19th century scientific interest in this area, you may find it a bit tedious.
“The Courting Campaign” has its usual plot twists that you may or may not see coming. They are there, of course, to add the conflict needed to push the story along to its intended end. Emma and Sir Nicholas’ relationship as a romantic pair develops slowly. Emma believes she wouldn’t want to marry a man like Nicholas because of his neglect of family, and Nicholas believes he would make a terrible husband because of past mistakes in a previous marriage. In the end, like all romances, they come to realize they love one another.
Though my past two books have been on the squeaky-clean side, I still hoped for a bit more. Since this is a Love Inspired Historical, it is once again sprinkled with Christian values and silent prayers uttered throughout the book. Emotional intimacy rather than sexual are the guidelines for this genre on the publisher’s submission page.
In my opinion, though, men and women who fall in love still have an attraction that goes beyond those confines. In this genre, those emotions are never expressed, which I find making the “falling-in-love” part somewhat bland. Attraction begins at many levels and not with just a meeting of the minds. You can keep a story clean, but be honest about the deep human emotions, yearnings, and temptations we all experience – even as Christians. As Marianne Dashwood declared in the movie version of Sense & Sensibility:
“To love is to burn – to be on fire, like Juliet or Guinevere or Eloise.”
“The Courting Campaign” is a slow burn rather than a story of blazing adoration. Over all, I’d give it 4 Crowns – Princess of a Charming Story for the writing, character development, and plot.
One last comment, the formatting on Kindle was terribly inconsistent. Not sure what happened but the font size changed to extremely big on some pages and then back to normal on others. The basic paragraph formatting was inconsistent throughout, as well as an obvious area of “hard” returns (not good in eBooks) that screwed a few pages up entirely. Hopefully, they will correct before release. (Reviewed by Countess Victoria)