The Reluctant Cavalier
Readers of Regency romances expect a dashing hero, preferably a member of the nobility, although a heroic military man will do in a pinch. In The Reluctant Cavalier, Karen Harbaugh, that wonderful breaker of Regency novel rules gives us a hero who is not dashing at all. Indeed, Parsifal Wentworth is almost the antithesis of a Regency hero. Parsifal is the second son of an Earl, and has no title. Although he has some money and property of his own, he is not an extremely wealthy man. Parsifal is not very tall, and even though he is far from being ugly, neither is he so handsome that he attracts attention. Actually, Parsifal doesn’t attract attention at all – he is quiet and shy, he blushes and he is a virgin.
Parsifal, the ultimate beta man, is dragooned into escorting his silly little sister to a costume ball and he goes as a Cavalier, dressed in some old clothes and a sword that belonged to one of his ancestors. Seemingly, clothes do make the man, and Parsifal finds himself behaving in a very forthright, heroic and dashing manner, not like his usual shy self.
At the party, Parsifal meets Miss Annabella Smith. Annabella is a sweet, charming and intelligent young woman. Her parents are hoping for an offer of marriage from the Duke of Stratton, but Annabella wants to be loved. Her mother and father love each other very much, and Annabella wants the same for herself. As for the Duke – she respects him, but there is just something about him that makes her uneasy. . . and then there is that charming masked Cavalier she met at a party.
It’s a treat to see a good man win a good woman. Parsifal and Annabella are two people who truly were made for each other. They even blush together. They are both thoroughly nice, but are not goody two-shoes or insipid wimps. Actually, when the chips are down Annabella shows herself to be a brave and resourceful young lady – and there actually is a streak of roguish Cavalier in Parsifal after all.
This is one of my favorite “feel good” romances. While I love a dashing lord and will drop everything to read a swashbuckler, sometimes it’s nice to read a book where the author breaks the rules. Karen Harbaugh breaks them just right in The Reluctant Cavalier