Book Review : The Heir of Brownlie Manor
By Anita Stansfield
After a medical discharge from his duties in the Napoleonic War, Thomas Quincy Fitzbatten has returned home. Disoriented, burdened by guilt for his wealth, and disillusioned with life’s injustices, Thomas longs for a chance to make a difference in the world. But he keeps himself a mystery to those around him, and another motive for his charity gnaws at the back of his mind: to seek redemption from the traumatic demons of war. Then everything changes at the arrival of Ruth Dawson, the niece of Thomas’s butler, a stunning woman with a secret of her own. Thomas graciously offers to assist Ruth in her predicament, but a surprise instinct prompts Thomas to handle the case a little more personally—through marriage. As their love blossoms, it appears that all will be well—until Thomas receives a mysterious letter from an old friend in trouble, compelling him to the rescue. But what will Thomas do when nothing is as it seems? And why can’t Ruth shake the feeling that her destiny is intertwined with Thomas’s in a way they could never have imagined? (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
The Heir of Brownlie Manor was recommended to me to read. Initially I had high hopes for this novel because I liked the characters and they had real problems. Thomas has come home from the war traumatized and is quickly becoming an alcoholic. Ruth, has found herself in big trouble, with no position and pregnant.
Though highly improbable, Thomas decides to marry Ruth and the story moves on after that decision. I felt like the name of Ruth was a nod to the Biblical Ruth who would leave her past behind to follow her new husband. However, the story also goes downhill from that point. Each problem is handled graciously (unrealistically) and at every moment the characters are expressing their gratitude. I’m all for gratitude, but in a book there needs to be conflict. Nearly every character has a saccharin-sweet response to life’s challenges, which is boring.
Towards the end of the novel, a big problem arrives in the form of the child’s birth father. In an effort not to spoil everything, it is enough to say that he is a scheming, opportunistic scoundrel. Even so, the family handles this overwhelming problem with such acrimony it is ridiculous.
Other tedious problems are in the setting. Though set in the Regency there are inconsistencies with the time period. Foremost, would be the relationships between men and women and the ideas of equality. Part of the charm in true Regency novels is the way men and women act with each other. In Sense and Sensibility Emma’s brother takes everything, because he has the legal right, but also because he and his wife have the mind set that it is their right. In Pride and Prejudice, it is not that Mr. Darcy overcomes his pride, but in fact Elizabeth recognizes his right to his pride because he is such a judicious master of his lands. These are not the type of men to serve a woman because she is pregnant and do the dishes, that’s a modern ideal. Setting that subject aside there are other problems, like the people having “lunch”; in the Regency period there was not a meal called “lunch”. If the author chooses to set things in a historical period I feel like the setting should be consistent with that time period.
In the end, I was not romanced by The Heir of Brownlie Manor. I wanted more out of the characters and the story. It is perfectly clean, not even passionate kissing described. I know this author has a strong following and there is an audience for this type of book.
3 out of 5 stars
If you want to try a different kind of romance that I immensely enjoyed read Sorcery and Cecilia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot by Caroline Stevermer and Patricia Wrede. It’s very light hearted and has a Regency/magic twist.