Lakeshire Park, Megan Walker’s début novel, is an entertaining read reminiscent of classic Jane Austen-style romance. We have an initial misreading of the hero’s character, the impending poverty of two ladies of diminished circumstances, and the almost frantic need for marriage to save the sisters from a life of drudgery. There are a few hiccups in the story and some stilted writing along the way, but it will be enjoyed by readers looking for a more traditional-style regency romance.
Amelia Moore and her younger sister Clara have been living with their ailing stepfather, Lord Gray. Lord Gray feels no love for the girls but is bound by a promise to their late mother to try to see them settled before he dies. He will not help them financially but he does allow them to go to a house party to see if they can find husbands. The house party at Lakeshire Park is hosted by the mother of Sir Ronald, a young man Clara enjoyed spending time with very much during her one season in London. Amelia is determined to see Clara matched with Sir Ronald before Lord Gray dies and leaves them penniless and homeless.
On the road to Lakeshire Park, Clara discovers she has lost her only pair of short gloves. They stop in the town immediately before their destination, only to find the last pair of gloves being bought by another gentleman for his sister. Amelia tries to convince the stranger that her need is greater but the stranger, however kind, will not budge. In the end, Amelia gives her gloves to Clara (it simply will not do to have Clara arrive at Sir Ronald’s house gloveless) and she hopes to never set eyes on the man from the shop again.
Alas, the stranger, Mr. Peter Wood, and his sister Georgiana are also guests at the house party. Amelia is dismayed but Peter thinks it a wonderful coincidence. She is determined to keep her distance from Peter because (she thinks) he is obviously a selfish bully, but when Georgiana starts vying for Sir Ronald’s attentions, Clara asks Amelia to help her by keeping Peter occupied so that he cannot encourage Sir Ronald’s attentions to his sister. Amelia knows Clara’s last chance at happiness is to secure Sir Ronald’s affections, so she agrees to spending time with Peter.
What I liked about this story was its emphasis on Amelia and Peter getting to know each other. They spend the afternoons together mainly walking around the estate in conversation. There is no mindless lust, no instant feelings of love and desire, no heated glances at tight pantaloons. Even though Amelia is hesitant to befriend Peter, they eventually end up sharing their stories and their hopes. I appreciated the slow growth of their romance.
Amelia is a heroine true to her time. Her main goal is financial security for her sister and herself – she is not romance-minded, she is realistic. While it might have gotten a little old to read about her desperation for a match for her sister, it was realistic for her era and situation. Peter is a delightful hero – he has a wonderful sense of humor and a lightness of being that Amelia cannot relate to but is drawn to. And he believes in love. It’s a convincing romance, although perhaps the amount of time Amelia and Peter are left unchaperoned is less than period-appropriate.
The setting of the house party is also true to its time – a small gathering complete with picnics and parlor games and a neighborhood ball on the last evening. There is a twist at the end which is a little surprising but in general the story proceeds as the reader thinks it will. There were a few times in the story where I was thrown off by a detail or an unbelievable statement, but in the end, it was a sweet story.
Readers who enjoy traditional, slow-moving regency romance will want to add Lakeshire Park to their to-be-read pile and Megan Walker to their list of go-to authors.
Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent bookstore
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