It was getting late in the afternoon and the curricles and phaetons were congregating to leave. The fashionable men and women of the ton, dressed to impress in curly-brimmed hats and plumed bonnets, convivially saluted each other, stopping to chat with acquaintances and friends. As a young man, she could slip through the crowd, barely noticed. In fact, Piro was the focus of more interest. People pointed and laughed at the scruffy little dog, full of his own consequence, trotting with a high step beside her.
An Unsuitable Heiress is an old fashioned story filled with gothic adventure.
Following the death of her mother, Corinna Ormesby has lived a quiet life in the countryside with her cantankerous Cousin Agnes. Her father’s identity has been a tantalising mystery, but now at nineteen Corinna knows that finding him may be her only way to avoid marriage to the odious Mr Beech.
Deciding to head to London, Corinna dons a male disguise. Travelling alone as a young woman risks scandal and danger, but when, masquerading as a youth, she is befriended by three dashing blades, handsome and capable Alick Wolfe, dandy Ferdinand Shilton and the incorrigible Lord Purfoy, Corinna now has access to the male-only world of Regency England.
And when she meets Alick’s turbulent brother Darius, a betrayal of trust leads to deadly combat which only one of the brothers may survive. From gambling in gentleman’s clubs to meeting the courtesans of Covent Garden, Corinna’s country naivety soon falls away.
But when she finds her father at last, learns the truth about her parentage and discovers her fortunes transformed, she must quickly decide how to reveal her true identity, while hoping that one young man in particular can see her for the beauty and Lady she really is.
This was my first Jane Dunn novel and if you are a lover of historically accurate novels then you’ll probably enjoy An Unsuitable Heiress. It’s clear Jane does a ton of research for these novels, and once I got used to the style of writing, I did enjoy the romp of a story. It’s written in a more formal style reminiscent of the era and even the language of dialogue is less modern. If your favourite regency romances are by Sarah MacLean, this may not be the book for you. An Unsuitable Heiress reminded me of the regency romance novels I would borrow from my gramma’s bookshelves when I was younger. This book feels like an old fashioned romance novel, but in a good way.
I love the premise and the setup for this story: a woman masquerading as a man to seek out her father: antics ensue. Corinna, or Cory as she goes by when she’s disguised as a man, just seems to have everything happen to her easily: I wanted a bit more friction before everything works out. I think this is perhaps a reflection of the writing style: we don’t spend a lot of time in the character’s heads, so we see events happen to them but don’t always get a deep insight into how they are really feeling in the moment. This makes the romantic relationship between Cory and Alick slightly a let down because we see it building but they don’t realize it until the end of the book.
Cory, in a way, reminds me of Anne of Green Gables. She’s such a good person, and has the most optimistic view on the world, even though bad things have happened to her. She’s sweet and funny, and also very capable, and you can’t help but to be charmed by her. Watching her adapt to her new world and experience is the most fun part of the story. There’s also some gothic scenes.
Another part of the story that I highly enjoyed is the large cast of secondary characters in An Unsuitable Heiress – Both Cory and Alick have these crews of people around them that cause chaos and fun and are so loyal to both of them I would happily read books about Alick’s three friends to see what kind of antics they continue. Pino, Cory’s tiny poodle, steals many a scene and will also steal your heart. He’s so darn cute and adds a lot of humour to the story.
An Unsuitable Heiress is a traditional regency romance so there’s a lot of longing glances and some scandalous touches between upper class nobles but there is nothing beyond a kiss or two on the page. It suits the style of this story to a T!
If you are yearning for a sweet regency romance with some big characters, you’ll enjoy An Unsuitable Heiress.
Thank you to Boldwood Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.