Monday 13 April 2020

#BookReview — An Embroidered Spoon by Jayne Davis #RegencyRomance #HistoricalRomance @jaynedavis142

An Embroidered Spoon
By Jayne Davis

Wales 1817

After refusing every offer of marriage that comes her way, Isolde Farrington is packed off to a spinster aunt in Wales until she comes to her senses.

Rhys Williams, there on business, is turning over his uncle’s choice of bride for him, and the last thing he needs is to fall for an impertinent miss like Izzy – who takes Rhys for a yokel.

Izzy’s new surroundings make her look at life, and Rhys, afresh. But when her father, Lord Bedley, discovers that the situation in Wales is not what he thought, and that Rhys is in trade, a gulf opens for a pair who’ve come to love each other. Will a difference in class keep them apart?

"I find myself wishing to kiss you before I leave…"

Rhys Williams knew that he had no right to ask, but he could not leave without knowing if his feelings were returned. If they are, then there is nothing he would not do for Miss Isolde Farrington.

Isolde knew that she could never marry Rhys, but he was the only man who lit her up from the inside. He is the only man whom she desires to be with. Her father would not approve, but his approval did not seem to matter as she stared into the eyes of the man she was falling in love with... 

From a cold and heartless banishment to Wales to the discovery of true love in the most unexpected of places, An Embroidered Spoon by Jayne Davis is what Regency Romances are all about.

Davis has presented her readers with a richly detailed and emotionally charged story that is as enthralling as it is entertaining. This is the kind of novel that once started is near on impossible to put down. It is comfortingly familiar yet as fresh and vibrant as a summer's day. With larger than life characters and an utterly beguiling plot, An Embroidered Spoon was everything I had hoped it would be, and then some.

Isolde is a woman of quick wit and a gentle disposition. However, when we first meet her, Isolde comes across as rather spoilt, arrogant and rude. However, her situation is a desperate one. Her parents expect her to marry well — they are too caught up in their quest for titles, wealth and position to take any notice of Isolde's wants and preference. For them, a good marriage is one that is based on companionship — love is not mentioned at all. But, that is not enough for Isolde. She wants everything or nothing. Her initial prejudice of Rhys, because of his seemingly lowly status, demonstrates the ignorance of the aristocracy. However, Isolde is also a very thoughtful woman and one who is willing to admit when she is wrong. Isolde is not afraid to laugh at herself, apologise for any mistakes she has made, and unlike some, she will do her very best not to repeat them. Her relationship with Rhys, a man who her father would not approve of, could be seen initially as a sort of rebellion against her parents. As the novel progresses, it becomes apparent that Isolde has fallen for Rhys, and she knows he can offer her something far more important than titles and financial stability. 

Isolde was a character that I came to like very much as this novel progressed. Her dealing with the rather odious Lord Ordsall brings much humour to this story, although it is humour born out of desperation. Lord Ordsall's depiction also demonstrated the lengths a parent would go to secure what was considered a good marriage. When Isolde speaks of how Lord Ordsall forced himself on her and kissed her, Lord Bedley's, Isolde's father, immediate response was that if he had known he would have forced Lord Ordsall to marry her. He did not consider his daughter's feelings of violation at all, which I think demonstrated very clearly what it was like to be a member of the le bon ton in the 19th Century. Isolde feels trapped and who can blame her. No wonder she falls head-over-heels with Rhys who matches her not only in wit and humour but also stirs a desire which she had not felt for any other man. I thought Isolde's depiction was fabulous.

Rhys is a respectable man of trade, and because of this he really struggles with his attraction for Isolde. He knows that she is completely out of reach, and yet he cannot find the strength to stop their relationship from developing. Like Isolde, he has his own responsibilities. The story is set just after the Napoleonic war, and as a mill owner, Rhys is very conscious of the fact that times are changing. The cottage industries will be absorbed into the large mills sooner rather than later. Progress is inevitable, particularly if he wants to turn a profit, but at the same time, he is concerned for the future of the people whom his expansion will put out of work. I thought Rhys' depiction was wonderful. He is a very caring man who isn't cowed by titles or wealth, and yet he will fight for what he believes in, and he believes in his love for Isolde. Rhys is a very dashing hero with all the qualities one would expect a protagonist to have in a Regency Romance.

Secrecy and concealment are often an important theme that runs through Regency Romances, and An Embroidered Spoon is no exception to this rule. Isolde's spinster aunt, who she is banished to live with because she refuses to marry the great Lord Ordsall, isn't a spinster at all. But she is in fact married with three children. Eugenia has chosen to live the life she wanted and to marry the man of her choice without her family's consent. Eugenia has weighed heavily the merits and disadvantages of keeping her marriage a secret from her family, for she knows how they will react to her having married beneath her. If anything, Eugenia shows Isolde that despite being a woman, she can choose her own destiny. However, that decision will have consequences, and she has to be ready to sacrifice everything to be with the man she loves. Eugenia demonstrates, through her own successful and happy marriage, that sometimes the most painful of sacrifices are ultimately worth it.

As the would-be lovers become cruelly separated the Welsh Love Spoon takes on a symbolic significance as a token of affection, and it becomes a secretly embroidered message that demonstrates the love and commitment of the young protagonists. I thought this was an inspired idea on Davis' part, not to mention, incredibly romantic.

The historical setting is as rich and descriptive as a Jane Austen novel. The wildness of the Welsh countryside to the grandeur of the ballroom, are all described with a lavish sense of time and place. Davis' understanding of the industrial changes of this era also shone wonderfully through the narrative, as did her understanding of how society expected her aristocratic daughters to behave. 

If you are looking for your next great Regency Romance, then look no further than An Embroidered Spoon by Jayne Davis. You won't be disappointed.

I Highly Recommend

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Pick up your copy of 
An Embroidered Spoon 

Jayne Davis

Jayne Davis writes historical romances set in the late Georgian/Regency era, published as both ebooks and paperbacks.

She was hooked on Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer as a teenager, and longed to write similar novels herself. Real life intervened, and she had several careers, including as a non-fiction author under another name. That wasn't quite the writing career she had in mind...

Finally, she got around to polishing up stories written for her own amusement in long winter evenings, and became the kind of author she’d dreamed of in her teens. She is now working on the first few books in the Marstone Series, set in the late Georgian/early Regency period.

You can find Jayne: Website • PinterestTwitter.

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx