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    A marvellous romance!

    Mr. William Lane came to Bath from London to secure a business matter. While debating on whether he should drink the local waters, he meets Mrs. Clara Sommersby. Clara has thrived since her husband's passing, and she enjoys her independence. She likes the very serious and dedicated Mr. Lane, but has not considered remarrying; she will not have a man dictacte how to manage her affairs, and besides William is too young for her. Clara and her friend Eleanor, the Dowager Duchess of Lyonsdale, cannot resist their matchmaking impulses and Clara takes upon herself to match William to her neighbour's overlooked daughter Harriet. But it is soon apparent to everyone that this is not the way things are going. Charming, enchanting, captivating: this is what MRS. SOMMERSBY'S SECOND CHANCE is! On the surface, this is a very simple story - boy meets girl - but beneath the surface, there is so much going on! There's the age difference: Clara is 45 and William 37, and it was not well regarded at the time the story is set. There are class differences, which are not immediately apparent, and Society's preoccupations with appearances. William and Clara come very different backgrounds, but they are fundamentally very much alike: they have worked hard for what they have and intend to succeed in their future endeavours. They are also very different: he is reserved and often far too serious while she is bubbly and gregarious, yet they complement each other so well. They also have tragic backstories, and I thought the author gave an unusual spin to Clara's marriage. Clara and William were just so lovely, I couldn't wait to see them together, but oh the obstacles the reader knows they will encounter! It is refreshing to have a Regency romance with older characters: William is 37 and Clara 45, and especially with the woman being older. I loved how everyone behaved according to their age, from the Dowager Duchess to nineteen year-old Harriet. There are so many wonderful characters in this story! The irrepressible Dowager, who threatens to steal the show, and whose interactions with Clara are simply delightful; William's friends, the Earl of Hartwick and the Duke of Lyonsdale, are fabulous and they have wonderful exchanges that made me laugh quite a few times. Even Clara's dog, Humphrey, was perfect; not too cute, just a normal, mischievous puppy. I thought it absolutely marvellous that both Clara and William earned my respect with their actions; there is no telling here, gentle readers, only showing. Clara is an admirable heroine; she knows what she wants and she takes the appropriate measures to make it happen. The attraction between Clara and William is palpable right from the start, with none of those endlessly hardening and tightening body parts. You feel that shimmering moment of awareness when they look at each other that first time when they realise that they cannot ignore what is happening. Ms. Benson possesses an impeccable sense of time and place, of history and customs; I felt I also was in 1820 Bath for a little while. MRS. SOMMERSBY'S SECOND CHANCE is so intelligently crafted, I felt secure that nothing stupid would occur, but I wondered how Clara and William would react when the conflicts arose. There was no lack of communication, but there were things that had remained unsaid between them because there was no need for some details to be discussed until they naturally came up, and to witness the characters deal with the issues like reasonable adults was a joy to behold. MRS. SOMMERSBY'S SECOND CHANCE is a grand love story with the most perfect ending one could wish for; oh my heart!
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