Miss Scott Meets Her Match
Sometimes, the best revolutions are done quietly, without fanfare. Laura Paquet’s Miss Scott Meets Her Match is one such quiet revolution, a traditional Regency Romance that toys with its traditional constraints, while understanding its limits. The author uses some traditional Regency set-ups, but also takes a few liberties, resulting in something that is fresh to read. And while the book’s faults lie in the secondary plot and characters, the main story and the hero and heroine are enough to overlook those shortcomings.
Elizabeth Scott is a Cit of the best kind, a businesswoman who is successfully running her deceased father’s import business. Because of her wealth and the laws declaring a wife’s assets were under her husband’s control, her nasty, indebted cousin is trying to force her into a marriage she doesn’t want. In attempting to escape his clutches, she lands almost literally in Spencer Willoughby’s lap.
The fourth son if an aristocratic family, his family sees Spencer as nothing more than someone who “is always around to complete a table of whist.” In reality, Spencer is a scientist who spends all of his allowance on supplies for his experiments. He chafes against the inaction his family seems to desire for him, and leaps at the chance to assist Miss Scott in her troubles.
Elizabeth is a shrewd businesswoman, skilled at assessing people quickly. Although she is attracted to Spencer, she believes he is merely a gambler, an aristocratic dilettante who will do nothing with his life. Instead of being awed by the aristocracy, she believes they are useless, superficial and judgmental. It is up to Spencer to prove her wrong.
Paquet’s relaying both Elizabeth and Spencer’s points of view allows us to see how their respective insecurities manifest themselves in their burgeoning relationship. Although Elizabeth is savvy in business, she is not confident of her attractiveness; even though Spencer is physically attractive, he feels insecure in letting his family know of his intellectual pursuits. Although the story is not anachronistic at all, it does reflect the kind of modern romantic troubles to which anyone could relate.
There are, however, a few problems with the story. The cousin who attempts to force Elizabeth to marry is an unbelievable character. And, the situation in which Elizabeth finds herself, after the initial flurry of assistance Spencer and his family provide, could have been easily resolved. Elizabeth’s past is not nearly as dark as she would have us believe, and she is too easily cowed by the threat of having it revealed.
That said, the interaction between Spencer and Elizabeth is honest and moves along in a natural way. Although the book is a traditional Regency, it makes a refreshing change to see a person from the business class who is not an “encroaching mushroom” and does not aspire to be part of the aristocracy. It is also interesting to be inside both of the characters’ heads so thoroughly. Miss Scott Meets Her Match won’t set the world on fire, but it is a nicely complex Regency.