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There are as many kinds of romance novels as there are people who fall in love. Each set of lovers has their own story. In the past few years Regency novels have seen a burst of popularity and some of the best writers have turned to these tales set in the prim and proper era of the early nineteenth century when George the IV was the British regent. Another type of romance that has seen a recent surge in popularity is the “chic lit” novel which features “twenty somethings” who are looking for both romance and independence.
Unlike their parents’ generation, they marry later and place more emphasis on careers and having a good time than on settling down and starting a family. They’re anxious to be out of the family nest, but cling to roommates. Clever dialog and pop jargon abound. Being part of a “group” and rarely on their own has often left them as awkward as thirteen-year-olds in one-on-one relationships. There are still plenty of classic love stories where the handsome prince rescues the sweet, deserving maiden. College, boy-next-door, office, war, and accidental meetings are everywhere. In addition to novels classified as Romances, almost every genre also includes a romance sub-genre. This week I read and reviewed two romances with a musical twist. The first is contemporary chic lit and the second is a Regency set in India.
LOVE AT FIRST NOTE by Jenny Proctor
Emma Hill is a fantastic violinist, but clumsy when it comes to romance. Her world revolves around music until a famous pianist, Elliott Hart, moves in next door. She makes an awkward first impression, but later discovers they make beautiful music together until media attention sends them both scurrying for cover. She’s a purist who thrives on the classics; he loves the classics but believes he must produce whatever music his manager and recording company want. She’s fearful of attention and uses her mother’s progressing MS as an excuse to give up her concert master position with the Cleveland Orchestra to move back home to small town Asheville, North Carolina. She fights with her younger sister who doesn’t seem to want the musical career Emma is determined she should have and makes her mother unhappy by insisting on being her caretaker. Elliott is supposed to be working on a new album. When the tabloids get pictures and a story of him dating and kissing Emma, he’s willing to sacrifice their relationship to spare her the media attention. They both have some serious soul-searching to do to discover what they really want and to see the difference between sacrifice and comfortable excuses.
This story is “chick lit” and the characters behave as though they are much younger than they’re really supposed to be. That’s part of the identifying features of this type of romance which is generally light, modern, and a little sassy or flippant. Their immersion in music and the emotions music generates in them is a critical element of both Emma and Elliott’s make-up. Being tone deaf, I really couldn’t identify with the characters though I was impressed with the amount of music research that went into this novel. Though the relationship seems more like a junior high crush than one of deep, lasting love, it takes on greater depth as the protagonists discover some truths about themselves.
Jenny Proctor has become a favorite of a large portion of the younger female reader set. Her books are clean, well researched, and speak the language of today’s “millennial generation.” She lives with her husband and children in Western North Carolina. Her favorites include, hiking, reading, and eating.
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LOVE AT FIRST NOTE by Jenny Proctor, published by Covenant Communications, 287 pages, soft cover $16.99 Also available for e-books.
LADY HELEN FINDS HER SONG by Jennifer Moore
During the spring of 1813 Lady Helen Poulter accompanies her mother and stepfather to India where her stepfather, a British general, is to take over a new command in Calcutta. She considers the new sights and sounds an exciting adventure, though she soon realizes a popular young woman on the same trip, whose father is with the East India company, sees the customs and culture of the country as dirty and disgusting. Both are enamored with a young lieutenant who is obsessed with hunting and Helen forms a strong friendship with Captain Michael Rhodes. She spends many hours playing the piano and chooses or composes a song for each person important in her life, but has difficulty finding the right song to identify with herself.
Michael has lived in India all of his life except for a few years when his military family sent him to England to go to school. A serious battle accident severed one of his legs and ended his ability to advance in the army, but because of his heroic actions and his ability to speak several Indian dialects, he was allowed to remain in the army. Instead of living on base, he has a house and two servants, one a Mohammedan, the other a Hindu. And a pet monkey that delights Helen. He immediately falls in love with Helen, but assumes friendship is all he can have.
Many of the areas of India are ruled by local princes and rulers who resent the British who have taken over their country. Helen accompanies her stepfather and a small group of officers and soldiers on a peace mission to one such prince and finds the trip more difficult and frightening than expected, but it serves to further her friendship with Michael. Several outings turn into frightful forays and a major turning point in the story is an attempt to prevent a massacre.
Moore is a Regency writer who manages to stay within the protocol of the time period, but still create female characters whom modern readers can find strong, intelligent, and independent. She walks a fine line between the proper behavior expected of a Regency heroine and the strengths expected of a modern heroine. She places her characters in situations and places beyond the drawing and ball rooms of the ton. The setting and background of Lady Helen Finds Her Song are carried out with meticulous historical accuracy. The love story is tender and sweet set against a background of diversity, violent upheaval, and captivating action. Needless to say, Moore has become the darling of the modern Regency reader. Even those who don’t generally read Regency Romance will enjoy this one.
Jennifer Moore is a graduate of the University of Utah where she majored in linguistics. She and her husband with their four young sons live in northern Utah.
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LADY HELEN FINDS HER SONG by Jennifer Moore, published by Covenant Communications, Inc., 225 pages, soft cover $14.99, Also available for MP3 players, CD, and e-books.