I like Carla Kelly's books. This one had sparkling dialogue and a hero & heroine that I enjoyed ... wasn't thrilled about the ending, but over-all a good book.
Carla Kelly is by far one of the best Regency writers--in fact, one of the best Romance writers, period. There isn't a book she's penned that is not full of richly-portrayed characters wrapped in a fascinating and touching story. You simply cannot go wrong with any of her books, including this one: "Mrs. McVinnie's London Season."
With all I'd heard about the fabulous nature of this book, I could hardly wait to settle into a chair and start reading. I was expecting a book with the spectacular appeal of MISS WHITTIER MAKES A LIST (my absolute favorite book by Ms. Kelly). Although this novel takes place roughly during the same time frame (the Regency/Napoleonic Wars period), that is where the similarities end.
Mrs. McVinnie is a young Scottish widow who lives with her father-in-law (who was in the war and in same rifle corps as his son). A letter comes for 'Miss Jeannie McVinnie' and Jeannie decides to accept the job as chaparone to Captain Will Summers' niece, Larinda. Jeannie understands that the letter is from Capt. Summers, asking to hire his old nanny (some 60 years of age) but she decides to take the job so Galen McVinnie (her father-in-law) can go fishing with his buddies (for a couple of months) with a clear conscience.
What Jeannie finds when she arrives is pure bedlam; Larinda is a mean-spirited snob, Aunt Agatha Smeath is turning Edward into a permanent invalid, the illegitimate child Clare cries all night and Capt. Summers wants to roar orders, not listen to familial problems. Into this mess walks Jeannie McVinnie; she fixes almost all of the problems in a matter of a few days. This was hard to believe.
I particularly dislike using actual people in novels for more than a passing comment. Making Beau Brummell an actor in a portion of the book smacked of phoniness. It seems (to me) as if an author is rewriting history.
**SPOILER** Another problem I had with the book was how quickly Will changed. Will is dying to marry Jeannie while he is aground; as soon as he gets a ship, he withdraws his proposal. My estimation of Will dropped through the floor.
**SPOILER** Although Will was Edward's guardian, he told Jeannie to decide what to do about Edward's future. He told her, "That will be for you to say, Jeannie. I have no judgment in this matter." At this point, they are no longer engaged. I understand that Will was reminded of his own running away to sea and was concerned that his solution was not right for his ward. But to abdicate his responsibility in this way seemed odd.
This novel did not have the usual suspects of a Carla Kelly novel: Lots of sparkling dialogue, fascinating characters and depth of plot . I'm glad to have read it, but it doesn't rest in my pantheon of Carla Kelly masterpieces. 3.5 stars