Cheap, Cheerful, and Chaste – Regencies from Joyce Alec

Although my eReader of choice is Kobo, I have the Kindle app on my phone. I have my phone with me when busing (and ferrying) about town, so I do most of my reading on that. When I finish a book, suggestions for something similar are right there. Buy Now With 1-click is a terrible temptation, especially if it’s inexpensive. And thus I discovered Joyce Alec’s regency romances

In An Earl’s Deception, practical Lady Martha and sensible Lord Weston agree to fake a courtship. They want to influence Martha’s sister to cease her pursuit of the mysterious and probably unsuitable Lord Hobart and return to her apparent first love, Lord Weston. They’ve obviously never seen a 1970s sitcom with a make-’em-jealous story line. However, Weston soon suspects fell for the wrong sister. This is part of the Secrets of London collection.

I followed An Earl’s Deception with the Hearts and Ever Afters collection. You can also buy the books individually, though given the current pricing for the collection I am not sure why you would.   

Lady Donoghue, in An Earl’s Agreement, is about to be promised to the unpleasant Lord Hutton, by her father. When Lord Caldwell discovers her weeping at a ball, he proposes to rescue her by announcing their engagement. The fake engagement will also serve him, by getting his match-making mother off his back, at least temporarily. I don’t think I am giving anything away by revealing that Donoghue and Caldwell discover they are truly fond of each other, but hesitate to act on their feelings. Meanwhile, Hutton will not give up his promised bride without a fight.

Married to a Marquess is a curious twist on second chance stories. Three years ago, Alice was unhappily married off to man she did not know. He was drunk at their wedding, and promptly shipped her to a country estate. He’s supported her financially, but otherwise ignored her. She’s had enough, and has returned to London under a false name, to meet and shame him. She meets him, and as she expected, he does not know who she is. What she did not expect was to feel sorry for him.

Lady Brooke is a widow, after a short arranged marriage to an elderly man. Back in town after the mourning period, and wealthy, she becomes the subject of a bet between the financially desperate Lord Thornley, and Viscount Armitage. As the title, A Viscount’s Second Chance, suggests, the latter was once fond of her. A scandal in his past may cause problems for a relationship between them, and Thornley is not above cheating to win the bet. 

In A Duke for Christmas, Charles is enjoying a dissolute life when the desperate Isabella arrives at his door. She’s the illegitimate product of a liaison between a member of his family (by marriage) and a maid. Charles and Isabella grew up together, but have been out of touch for many years. He’s embraced the carefree life of ease. She does not approve of his current lifestyle, and lets him know.

Finally, there’s Unexpected Earl. The wealthy Lady Hewson is charmed by Lord Kerr, but an old childhood friend she can no longer abide is determined to ruin her happiness, while claiming to have her best interests at heart. This was less satisfying than the others, as Hewson has little agency.

Image of Box set Hearts and Ever Afters

These are light quick reads, and could be a little longer. They sometimes end abruptly, with loose ends (though that is a lesser annoyance than long epilogues that add little). At times the historical authenticity or setting does not ring quite true, and there are occasional minor grammatical or character errors. However, there are appealing touches such as good dialogue and intriguing settings. A bookshop rendezvous turns up more than once, and I’m a sucker for that (note to self: add bookshop scenes to my stories). The women are generally strong characters, within the limits of their era, though their reforming effect on bad boys in several stories, along with the chaste nature of all the stories (nothing more than kisses), has a touch of Angel in the House

On wings of love uplifted free,
And by her gentleness made great,
I’ll teach how noble man should be
To match with such a lovely mate;

Fortunately, the more oppressive aspects of that poem are absent. There’s enough variety and pleasures in these books that I enjoyed reading them, and, especially at their current prices, I’ll happily pick up several more.