Title: Minerva (The Sisters, Book #1)
Author: Marion Chesney/M.C. Beaton
Copyright: January 14, 2014
Format: E-Book, 241 Pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Romantic Suspense, Sibling/Sisters Fiction
Price: $1.99 [Kindle], $7.99 [Audible], $8.49 [Nook], $18.55 [Barnes and Noble Audiobook], $13.95 [Google Play Audiobook], $6.99 [Apple Books], $12.99 [Apple Books Audiobook]
Poor Minerva. Prudish, self-righteous, and incredibly beautiful, she is to be sent to London to capture a wealthy husband. But Minerva doesn’t know the first thing about flirting. The London dandies find her moralizing appalling and concoct a plan to assault her virtue—an assault that will scandalize all London society. Meanwhile. Lord Sylvester Comfrey, whom she met earlier through her father, has been keeping a careful eye on the girl. A fact which she resents. She dislikes Lord Sylvester. There is something about him that disturbs her. Now the plan to destroy Minerva’s reputation begins to unfold. And Minerva stumbles headlong into the trap. But the plotters have reckoned without Lord Sylvester….
Minerva Armitage is the eldest daughter of the Reverend Charles Armitage, the vicar of St. Charles and St. Jude. She lives in the country with her mother, father, and seven younger siblings (five younger sisters and two younger brothers). In the Armitage household, she rules the roost. Mrs. Armitage, her invalid mother, is far too busy fancying herself unwell to manage the household. Reverend Armitage, on the other hand, is far too busy focusing on his pack of hounds and hunting to care about his parochial duties. Minerva does everything from taking care of her siblings to writing her father’s sermons to visiting the poor and needy in the parish. Needless to say, she has more than enough on her plate.
When the selfish Reverend Armitage is struggling financially, he plots to have his stunning eldest daughter marry a wealthy man. The solution is for Minerva to embark upon a London season. When she hears said plan, she is anything but delighted by the idea. When she meets the dashing Lord Sylvester Comfrey, she struggles with the fact that she finds him attractive. Her debut in society is anything but successful. A cadre of young men declare she is a priggish young woman and seek to teach her a lesson. Lord Sylvester, who cannot help his growing attraction to Minerva, watches out for her despite the dangers that lurk around the corner. Can he save her once the devious machination is hatched?
Books by Marion Chesney (aka M.C. Beaton) are always such a fun, wild ride. Minerva, the first installment in the “Six Sisters” series, is absolutely no exception. We have the demure and devout Minerva who is very much a motherly figure to the Armitage family. I adored this heroine and the way in which she was written. She felt so genuine and flawed like any other person. With the dashingly handsome Lord Sylvester, I was entranced. He was masterfully rendered as this aloof dandy who looms in the background but keeps his eye on the young debutante. His characterization was strong and it felt like he would have fit right in within risqué regency society.
The characterization of the historical figures was quite impressive. I particularly loved how Ms. Chesney depicted the infamous Beau Brummell with his excessively fashionable ways. He definitely had the hauteur that one would expect of the premier dandy in British society. After all, wasn’t Lord Byron “mad, bad, and dangerous to know?”
Overall, I found this book to be exceptionally well written and atmospheric. The descriptions of the settings were vivid and easy to imagine. From the detailed descriptions of Minerva’s coiffure à la Greque to Lord Sylvester’s hessian boots, I felt as if I was standing in Regency era Great Britain. There were even impressive depictions of the high society conversations and the haute couture. Ms. Chesney included the perfect amount of detail to lend authenticity to the novel. It was reminiscent of the works of Georgette Heyer.
The overall tone of the story was one of mystery and wonder. We have our debutante beginning a new journey into a society that is entirely alien to her. I was always on the edge of my seat, excited for what would happen next. The pacing was steady and the plot was ironclad.
The only criticism I could think of is the fact that some of the characters were a bit quirky to be believable. Lady Godolphin is one of those characters. She came across has a bit too absurd. Yes, she added some comic relief at times but she felt very much like a stock character.
Minerva is definitely a book that I adored beyond words. I will be revisiting it in the future as it is now a new favorite. Ms. Chesney is a wonderful new author to add to my list of favorite authors.