ROMANCE AT THE ROYAL MENAGERIE
RUTH J. HARTMAN
July 24 2013
Rating 4 Cups
Francesca Hartwell is a gentle young woman with an uncanny skill for communicating with animals. A sheltered childhood has kept her vulnerable and trusting. Deserted by her mother at a young age, Francesca is keen to enjoy a family life of her own and she yearns to find a man with whom she can share her passion for animals. Devoted to her father, she is loyal and obedient. Yet, on occasion, her independent spirit can lead her into trouble. Her sweet nature and tender personality are clear to see and her kind-heartedness is visible to all who encounter her.
The future Baron of Paddington, John Fairgate, has always tried hard to please his family. He is devoted to his Uncle and he has a huge sense of obligation to those around him. A keen ornithologist, his interest in animals is apparent and his gentle personality shines in his every deed. Though soon to inherit a title, John does not seek the limelight or the trappings of London society. Instead, he is happier with a simple life, filled with love and a woman with whom he can share his interests.
An unwanted marriage stands on the horizon for John Fairgate. The reluctant half of an arranged marriage, John is a young man torn between bowing to his family's wishes, and seeking love and happiness for himself. Taking a much longed-for visit to The Tower Zoo, a near fateful meeting with one of the animals brings the enchanting Francesca Hartwell to his attention. She is like no woman he has ever encountered, and her bravery and uniqueness captivate him from their first meeting. Francesca has always promised her father she would keep her distance from men of title. His mistrust for the gentry has been at the forefront of their lives ever since his wife abandoned them both. When Francesca's courage brings John into her life, she is oblivious to his social standing and unaware of the existence of the ambitious and jealous Jezebel Cartwright. Loyalties and love are eventually tested for both young people, but when Jezebel learns of their relationship, an even more dangerous test awaits them both.
Romance at the Royal Menagerie is an interesting and entertaining read. Ideal for lovers of Regency Romances, this story offers new aspects of enjoyment with added moments of humor and suspense. I was particularly entertained by John's reluctance to escape the clutches and cleavage of Miss Cartwright. Francesca and John are perfectly matched and portrayed lovingly by Ms Hartman. The author's own passion for animals, especially large cats, is clear and the descriptions of the creatures are lovingly written. The setting of the zoo was unique and I enjoyed the twist of a female villain. Though typical Regency scenarios can be found amongst the plot, the use of the zoo, animals, and character traits made an enjoyable story even more so.
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance & More