Miss Dornton’s Hero by Elisabeth Fairchild
Review by Jerseygirltoo
This book is part of the Signet Regency line of romances. Signet Regencies were published from the late 1970’s up until the beginning of 2006, but in my opinion their heyday was in the 1980’s and 90’s. I think they were the first romance books that I ever read and I still love them. Many of the authors, like Mary Balogh, Catherine Coulter and Loretta Chase became very well known and went on to publish longer historical best-sellers. Signet Regencies are easy to spot because they all have the same cover design. All of them take place roughly during the era of British history known as the Regency, the first two decades of the 1800’s, which also covers the time period of the Napoleonic Wars, when England was at war with France. Since they are fairly short books, the plot has to move along quickly; you won’t find any long digressions into spy or mystery subplots or secondary romances. You are mainly reading about the hero and heroine falling in love, which is fine with me! These are also good reads for people who enjoy romance but don’t want an erotic novel. Although some of the authors, like Mary Balogh, venture past the bedroom door, you generally won’t find explicit love scenes. In keeping with the historical period, many of them, like this book, end the same way as Jane Austen did, with a marriage proposal and a kiss.
I got “Miss Dornton’s Hero” and another by the same author through PaperBackSwap. It was my first book by Elisabeth Fairchild, but I never hesitate to try out a new author in the Signet Regency series because they are consistently well written and edited. Some of the authors are more to my taste than others, but there really isn’t a loser in the bunch.
Miss Dornton’s Hero was a nice surprise because the hero, Captain Evelyn Dade, is a war veteran who is suffering from PTSD (not that they knew what it was then) and his feelings and experiences are described in a grittier, darker way than you might expect in a light romance novel. The heroine, Miss Margaret Dornton is young and naïve and she has some unreal, idealistic notions about heroism. But underneath that, she is a warm and sympathetic person with strong principles, who strikes a chord in Captain Dade. They prove to be a perfect match. The hero’s recovery from complete despair and depression, to falling in love, and feeling a sense of hope about life in general, is gradual and realistic. I won’t go into more plot details, except to say that most of the story takes place in London, among the haunts of the upper class at that time, and that society’s expectations are the main obstacle to the hero and heroine getting together. Elisabeth Fairchild writes in a slightly formal old-fashioned style, similar to Edith Layton or Georgette Heyer, which is perfect for this type of story. I really enjoyed the book and plan to read more of her works.
If you are a fan of Regency romance, PaperBackSwap is the best place to get the out-of-print Signets, although some of the most popular ones have impossibly long waiting lists, and on Amazon they sell used for well over their original cover prices. However, some of the lesser known authors are also excellent, so if you see them on someone’s bookshelf, take a chance and try one out! Here are some recommendations:
The Duke’s Wager by Edith Layton
Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand by Carla Kelly
The Notorious Rake by Mary Balogh
A Highly Respectable Marriage by Sheila Walsh
A Step in Time by Anne Barbour
The Would-Be Widow by Mary Jo Putney
A Bird in Hand by Allison Lane
Lord Rathbone’s Flirt by Gayle Buck
Lord Harry’s Angel by Patricia Oliver
An Honorable Rogue by April Kihlstrom