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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Bilson

Ladies Of Intrigue by Michelle Griep

I was about a quarter of the way into The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady, the first in this three-book collection, when I started getting an unsettling feeling of deja vu. A few more pages and I was sure I’d read the book before, though it took a close look at my Goodreads library before I figured out where. It was part of a box set called The Regency Brides Collection, published in 2017. Obviously a limited time run, that set is no longer available and the author has bundled this story with the other two books to create a collection of her own. The story doesn’t appear to have been revised or expanded for this re-issue, since I did read it through completely and the issues I had with it still stand. I’m reproducing my original review of the story here:

If you like Poldark, you’ll enjoy this one set on the rugged Cornish coast with smugglers and excise men aplenty. While nicely written, I quibbled with a few things such as Helen’s becoming engaged immediately after her father’s death with no mourning period, and the fact that there was no real resolution with the invisible antagonist of the plot. Enjoyable but probably needed to be about double the length. Four stars.

The second two books in this set are new to me, and both American pioneer romances rather than English historical.

The Doctor’s Woman is set in the Dakota Territory in 1862. Emmy Nelson was her doctor father’s assistant for many years, and after his death, finds herself roped into assisting the new doctor at the military fort, Dr. James Clark, in caring for the soldiers and an encampment of friendly Sioux close by. With measles, smallpox and injuries to deal with, James acts like a complete idiot. Despite claiming to Emmy that he’d read her father’s books and respected them a great deal, he considered his book-only education far superior to her hard-won experience and hands-on training and discounted every word she said. The really disappointing part, though, after he fell deathly ill with measles and then pneumonia, was that Emmy still had to get help from a ‘magical Indian’ friend to save him. With an arrogant hero I wanted to strangle and a racist trope thrown in, this one was a bit of a disaster. I can’t give it more than one star.

The third story, A House Of Secrets, is set in St Paul, Minnesota, in 1890 and is easily the best of the three. Amanda is the socialite daughter of a wealthy businessman, engaged to Joseph, the city attorney. Determined to turn a ruined, abandoned mansion into a school for underprivileged children, Amanda runs into the unexpected obstacle of her fiance while trying to obtain the deed. While James comes across as officious and judgmental at first as we meet him in the act of trying to shut down a brothel, he turns out to have good reason for despising prostitution and is doing his altruistic best to help young women who want to leave that life. This did read very short, though, perhaps because we start off in the middle of Amanda and Joseph’s romance. I’d have enjoyed this more with a full novel, because I wanted to read more of their love story and see them interact more. Four stars.

Overall I’m giving this three stars; bookended by two solid stories which would nevertheless have been improved by some more length to flesh out the plots and relationships, they were dragged down by one in the middle I thoroughly disliked.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.

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