One of the genres that I have far too many of on my TBR is Regency romance, because they are just so easy to read – sweet, low-stress, with parameters laid out including a guaranteed happy ending. There are more than a few on my NetGalley shelf, and The Truth About Miss Ashbourne is a lovely example of the genre.
Book: The Truth About Miss Ashbourne by Joanna Barker.
Read before: No
Ownership: E-ARC provided free of charge through NetGalley for fair review. All opinions my own.
The Truth About Miss Ashbourne is unusual in being narrated wholly from the point of view of the heroine, as opposed to switching back and forth between her and her love interest. I’ve not seen any other historical romances in the first person, and I was really apprehensive at the start of it, but I was surprised at how much I loved it. The first person voice really allowed Juliana’s personality to shine through, and she was easy to love since you got that insight into her thoughts and feelings. She’s a smart, kind woman who’s working as a governess, and has been deeply hurt by her grandfather’s rejection of her mother, so when she discovers she’s been left a huge fortune in that very grandfather’s will, she’s wary – especially since to gain the inheritance, she’ll have to spend a month with the family she’s never met, at their ancestral home. Of course, once she gets there, the story unfolds, and this becomes a real rags-to-riches tale.
I thought that this was also unusual in being a very quiet, low-stakes kind of romance. There were no dramatic sequences or angst-ridden denials of love – it’s just Juliana slowly coming alive under the attention of the family she’d been denied, and falling in love. It’s really lovely and comforting to read. I really liked William, the love interest, and his gentle teasing and prodding that gets Juliana to warm up to her new life when her instincts are to reject it. I wasn’t a huge fan of the lampshading of ‘banter’ as flirtation – the word ‘banter’ is used a lot by both parties to describe their conversations as they’re having them, which felt pretty unnatural to me. But I did think that they were very cute together, and I liked how safe and supported William made Juliana feel.
Of course, there are no surprises in terms of plot, but that’s not what I read these books for. I read them for a sense of comfort and happiness, and this book has that in charming bucketloads. I’d highly recommend it to those looking for a cozy Sunday afternoon read! I’d initially rated this one four, but the more I think about it, the more I think it deserves five out of five cats!