My Lady Ghost
There are Regencies, and there are Regencies. Let me explain. Being a 90’s woman, enjoying Regencies is a contradiction to my feminist sensibilities. I like them, and yet I think of women as equals to men and believe in strong heroines – not something that was acceptable in the Regency time period. There are Regencies that manage to walk that fine line of being historically accurate and also satisfying my need for an extraordinary heroine and an equally strong, non-sexist (or almost so) hero. Then there are Regencies that are historically accurate – wimpy females and all. My Lady Ghost is one of the latter. It attempts to be a book about partnership and equality, by at least saying so in the narrator’s voice. Yet, by example, it is a book that pretty much falls into the typical Regency female category, and has a few story problems to boot.
I don’t want to go into detail about the plot. It involves a widow, Allison, and her self-appointed guardian, Thorne. There is a Big Misunderstanding. There is a missing treasure and a ghost. There are several unlikable secondary characters.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about what I didn’t like. The hero is distant and arrogant to the people he should most care about. The heroine behaves illogically and really has a problem with being offered carte blanch. A really big problem with it. Big enough that she would allow herself and her mother to starve when there is a mere hint that such a thing would be offered to her. She idealizes the life of a governess, who pretty much is the whipping-woman of the Regency world. The villain appears during the most predictable moment in the book. After the Big Misunderstanding is discussed, the couple creates another Big Misunderstanding to keep the story moving. All that, and several unlikable secondary characters, including Allison’s self-deluded mother and her weak cousin, James.
I want to spend some time discussing the few really good things in this book. The prologue is excellent. It provides mystery, intrigue and excitement in just a few pages. Sucked me right in. The castle scene is suspenseful, tender (although women are capable of more than seeing ghosts and telling the hero to be careful), and creative. I liked how Allison’s supernatural experiences from childhood were threaded through the story line, and how it culminated in a dream sequence that showed Allison and the reader the story of the ghost. Both Thorne and Allison showed a great deal of kindness toward others, and even toward each other during times of high stress. Lastly, the geese. I loved the geese – they were the cleverest, most likable characters in the book, and the way they were used is very creative.
This book is a good example of the “show, don’t tell” rule of story writing. The reader is told that the couple believes in a partnership, and yet the actual behavior of Allison and Thorne tell a different story. Maybe June Calvin wants this Regency to walk that fine line. It didn’t do it for me. Chances are, Allison and Thorne behave very accurately to the times. In the 90’s though, there needs to be more.