Enjoyable story - but a book in its own right?
is probably the best current writer of Regency romances, combining characterization, interesting plots, and at least a worthy attempt at historical accuracy. She is also particularly good at writing short stories (get hold of her story 'The Wassail Bowl' as an excellent example).
What may not be instantly apparent, especially if you are ordering A Matter of Class online, is that it
is in no way a full-length novel. My reviewer's copy was 190 pages in length,
and those printed with large text and wide spacing. In a normal book's printing, that's probably under 100 pages. I found the book rather more of a lengthy short story than a book on its own, as much as I enjoyed it.
A Matter of Class revolves around a clever plot device that isn't revealed until the end of the book (and which I shan't give away here). It was very well done, however, and I found myself turning back to the start of the book again once I'd finished it to see if I could pick up the clues. We follow the story of Reginald Mason, a man whose father made his money in trade and is trying to establish Reginald as a gentleman
- a difficult task when Reginald games to excess and generally behaves like a wild son.
When Lady Annabelle Ashton, daughter of the Earl of Havercroft, is caught eloping, it seems that she won't find anyone to marry her.
However, the daughter of an earl is a worthy candidate to help elevate Reginald to more lofty circles and his father is for the match.
Annabelle's father, too, sees Reginald as her only possible salvation from ruination. But can these two make something out of such an awkward start, and is there any significance to their previous meetings as young children?
This is a good read, as always, from Mary Balogh, but its brevity is in some ways a disappointment. It's definitely still worth buying,