The Sister Season
This is a Regency romp, including a madcap heroine and a clueless hero who cannot keep up with her. It features eight sisters who sprout nursery rhymes, a whistling horse called Precious, and donkey rides. Now, how could you go wrong with elements like that? All to easily, when the hero and heroine experience a sibling romance.
Daniel Durham, Lord Chantry, returns from the war to take over his father’s estate. He has promised his dying father to ensure his sisters a London season. But Daniel overlooked that he had eight sisters, by his father’s three wives, who have spent the last 14 years rusticating close to the Scottish border. Bringing them up to London standards is hard work, especially with Lady Winifred stirring up all sorts of trouble, like getting all the sisters lost in London while shopping. Winifred is really Miss Hendry, the third Lady Chantry’s daughter from her first marriage, but the sisters hide this fact in order to ensure that Freddie comes to Londontown, too. When Daniel finally discovers her true identity, he accuses her of having wrongfully squandered the inheritence of his real sisters.
Daniel’s desperate attempts to handle the situation are hilarious, with forays into his military background to set out a strategy to be rid of his sisters. If my brother had addressed me with a crisp Company dismissed! I would have dissolved into giggles. Daniel is an upstanding man, trying to do what is right. But to spend 230 out of 255 pages admiring and panting after a young lady he truly believes to be his sister – well, for all his goodness, to me that is unacceptable behavior in a hero, particularly since he suffers little remorse over the slant of his thoughts. It is this premise that destroyed what would otherwise have been a fun little read.
Freddie is one of those innocent, but not truly stupid, heroines. She is utterly incapable of following orders and creates amusing chaos wherever she goes. Innocent as she is, she is still strong-willed enough to outstare Daniel’s draconian housekeeper, Mrs. Vervaine. Also, she is much aware that Daniel is not her brother, which makes her looks of hot admiration a little more acceptable.
There were several crucial points in the plot that were so unlikely that I had to shake my head. The reason that Daniel does not know exactly how many sisters he has, or their names, is quickly glossed over. The matters regarding allowances and ownership of the Knocktigh estate also came across as unnecessarily convoluted. And the need for seven sisters, including three sets of twins, completely sailed passed my nose, unless a longer series of the Durham sisters is due soon.
The seven other sisters were quite amusing, not to mention Daniel’s horse. The secondary romance between Mr. Pettigrew and Georgette is very sweet: it is a delight to see a mouse of a secretary come out a winner.
The Sister Season is a book I partially enjoyed, more despite than because of the main characters. If you are the least sensitive to romance between close family, stay clear. Since there are six more sisters to marry off, and their brother has been caught, maybe a sequel would be less distasteful.