The London Belle
Grade : D

A hero who is older and jaded – who does not believe in love. A heroine who is a fresh out of the schoolroom innocent, who is about to get a painful lesson in life. Does this sound like anything we have heard before?

Jane’s father has gambled away everything – their family home, her and her sister’s dowries, all of their dear possessions, everything. Anthony, Lord Dashmond, finds himself in the position of convincing Jane’s father to head to America instead of blowing his brains out, and thus finds himself honor bound to keep Jane, her mother, and her sister from starving. Anthony, after seeing his son, who was suffering from emotional difficulties, respond to Jane offers her a position as a paid tutor and guest, even though she blames him for her father’s departure to America without knowing the full story. As Jane settles in to her new position, she discovers that there is more to her, to Anthony, and to life than she has ever known before.

I am getting too old for Regencies, I guess. There is something that grates on my nerves about 19-year-old heroines – am I alone here? Isn’t the average romance reader older than 25? Excuse me about getting on my soapbox for a moment, but this is the 90’s. Are there still people that can actually relate to a book about a heroine who is way too young falling for a hero who is at least 15 years her senior? I can not identify with a heroine who is so young, and I can not respect a man who is attracted to someone so young, despite the historical accuracy.

Unfortunately, The London Belle had more problems than just a heroine who is too young. The whole plot line was based on two misunderstandings – Jane’s belief that Anthony was responsible for her father’s departure, and Anthony thinking that Jane was like his first wife, and that she would be unable to adjust to life in Jamaica, where Anthony spends most of his time. Two misunderstandings that wouldn’t have even occurred if Anthony or Jane were less self involved. When Anthony told Jane’s family that he put their father on the boat, any intelligent person’s response would have been – why? Not so for Jane. Also she never stopped to realized that if Anthony wasn’t a decent person to begin with, why would he have given her a position as tutor in the first place? She did not have one moment of gratitude, nor did she ever reconsider her initial opinion of Anthony.

The book has three things to recommend it. One, Anthony’s cantankerous old uncle. Two, Jane’s generous aide to Hortense, Anthony’s ex sister-in-law. Three, the author obviously knows her history – the culture of the regency period is described in all its shallow nastiness. Very realistic. Still, I found The London Belle to be a book that is based on a very weak premise that didn’t hold up to logic. And it has a 19-year-old heroine – did I mention that fact?

Reviewed by Rebecca Ekmark

Grade: D

Book Type: Regency Romance

Sensuality: Kisses

Review Date : July 7, 1999

Publication Date: 1999

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