For those who love a good regency romance, author Mary-Celeste Ricks and her book A Stage for Harriet is for you. To be candid, I just looked up the definition of “Regency Romance.” I had a basic idea that it was historical romance in England. But in case you were also unclear, it is a very specific time and place: 1811-1820 (or so) during the British Regency. We’re talking balls and carriages and communicating with dainty fans and not speaking to someone until you’ve been properly introduced and the hoopla of the social season. And: YES. I do like to read regency romance.
Mary-Celeste Ricks has written a compelling debut novel, A Stage for Harriet. The meet-cute happens right away during the first chapter—my favorite—and I won’t tell you anymore right now because I don’t want to spoil ANYTHING. Truth be told, I refuse to read book blurbs or reviews for books I want to read because I want to start the adventure with no expectations and be pleasantly surprised. If this you, rest assured. I highly endorse A Stage for Harriet and you can grab your copy right here from Kindle for a few bucks or order a hard copy for just a little more. After you’ve read it, let’s chat! Tell me what you thought. You can find me on Instagram @HackettAcademy, reply to any of my newsletter emails, or comment below.
A Stage for Harriet would sit nicely on the shelf next to: Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice, Carla Capshaw’s Second Chance Cinderella, and Siri Mitchell’s She Walks in Beauty (though this is New York’s Gilded Age of 1890, it’s similar).
And Now SPOILER ALERT: A Stage for Harriet Synopsis and Review.
Harriet Shore is only a farmer’s daughter. Like me, you might have have thought this meant her father was actually a farmer—no, no, no. He is a “farmer” because he manages farms and other people who do the work on his land. But he is also a gentleman’s son. Hmm . . . this is fancy regency lingo for, “Miss Harriet is stuck in an odd spot because her father is not lower class. Because he just missed upper class she can’t marry the man of her dreams because their stations aren’t equal.”
But when Stephan, her tree-climbing childhood best friend and dreamy heart throb, is absolutely and totally into her, Harriet takes herself off the table so to speak by becoming a governess in London. Does she want Stephan to chase after her? Does she want him to find someone else? Maybe he’ll decide he doesn’t actually love her and be happier without her? (The horror!)
For the girl who wants to know, “Is he going to kiss her or what?!”
Oh! The kiss! They shared a delicious kiss just days before she left for London and now her head is swimming with the drama of it all. One doesn’t go kissing people they’re not engaged to unless that person is a rake or loose woman. Thank goodness for British society drama to keep the excitement going. She is nearly an exact look alike of a very well-to-do lady who is, er . . . indisposed at the moment. (She’s pregnant, okay. Oh, the scandal!) The Duchess wishes to sweep the whole thing under the rug and insists on hiring Harriet. Her role is to PLAY THE PART of her daughter Virginia until the situation is resolved and Lady Virginia can take her proper place in society again.
This is all well and good until Harriet discovers she actually enjoys playing this part and enjoys the company of so many young men and she enjoys dancing at balls and fine dining . . . But what of Stephan you ask? Well . . . the poor chap has been paying calls on a certain governess in London who is never home. He’s beginning to wonder if she’s avoiding him on purpose when he meets Lady Virginia at a fancy ball. But wait! Lady Virginia, who is much to far above the social ladder to pay him any mind is the exact look-a-like of his Harriet. How can this be?
Miss Harriet Shore playing Lady Virginia does her best to ignore the love of her life, but . . . oh dear. You really ought to read the rest and find out for yourself. I haven’t even touched on the escapades of poor Mr. Brougham whose mother wishes him to court Lady Virginia. You’ll meet dashing Mr. Desford whose charm and company are more exciting than she wishes to admit. And let’s not ignore the dreadful rake who wishes to take Harriet as a mistress.
Yes, I recommend this book.
Mary-Celeste Ricks wrote a fun story that was a great change from the western historical romance streak I’ve been in. There were no rugged cowboys, prairies or shotgun-circuit-preacher-weddings. For sure I didn’t find any homesteads with chickens, but there were plenty of balls, dancing, dark-hallways-leading-to-unoccupied-libraries, and of course, a happily ever after.
If you enjoy clean historical romance, be sure to keep an eye out for my book coming later this spring, A Bluebird on the Prairie.