Miss Carlyle's Curricle
Miss Carlyle’s Curricle could have been a dark and stormy book full of angst and hand wringing. Both the hero and heroine had very bad things happen to them as children, but they are both basically sunny-natured and not inclined to brood. If I have any complaint about Miss Carlyle’s Curricle it’s that it is almost too sunny, and needs just a wee touch of angst.
Miss Diana Carlyle is the niece of the Earl of Brisbane. Her uncle Charles took her and her mother in after their father deserted them and they almost starved. Diana is 25 years old, tall and voluptuous. She is a beautiful woman but is badly dressed and has a reputation with her gentry neighbors for being a tomboy and Long Meg. Diana’s London Season was a disaster, but she is happy at home with her mother and uncle.
When the book begins, Charles is killed in an accident while racing his curricle. When the will is read, Diana learns she will receive a substantial sum of money on the condition that she wed the next Earl, her distant cousin Gavin Sinclair, whom she has never seen.
When Diana meets Gavin, she finds him to be charming and handsome with a wonderful sense of humor. She also thinks he is nothing but a town fop because he is just too well dressed. But as these two get to know each other, it is soon apparent that they were born to be together. Harbaugh shows, not only the developing sexual tension between them, but also the fact that they just plain like one another.
There were many scenes in this book that I enjoyed and I particularly wanted to mention one. Diana finally wears a dress that flatters her and goes out to a concert. The gentlemen of the gentry who are accustomed to seeing her as a too-tall, badly dressed tomboy are astonished to behold a beautiful queenly woman. Soon, some of the gentlemen are acting like – shall we say cads? Unluckily for them, Diana is still a tomboy and can take care of herself. Gentleman Jackson would be proud of her!
Traditionally, Regency Romances do not have scenes of lovemaking in them, but author Harbaugh is known for taking liberties in the sub-genre. And so Miss Carlyle’s Curricle breaks that rule with a sweet and tender scene on Gavin and Diana’s wedding night and the morning after. They talk to each other and tell each other their bad childhood experiences and not only do they talk to each other, they listen too. I loved it! Diana is so ashamed of her generous figure that she habitually binds her breasts, even on her wedding night. When Gavin unwraps her, he is delighted at what he sees and a few minutes later, Diana is delighted too.
It comes to light that Diana’s uncle was murdered and that the killer is coming close to the new Earl, Gavin. He and Diana are nothing if not resourceful and lay a trap to catch the killer. Several complications ensue before all is wrapped up and there is much laughter and happiness all around, and knowing what good-natured people Gavin and Diana are, I see love and laughter galore in their future.
So maybe there’s something to be said for an angst-free book. O.K., forget my complaint in the first paragraph. Just get this book and read it. You’ll have a marvelous time.