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    Prequel to Royal Regard

    This prequel to Royal Regard gives a wonderful insight to the life of Bella Smithson prior to her true HEA. The daughter of an intolerable drunk baron with equally abusive brothers, Bella enjoys living with her Aunt, Uncle & cousin at least when her father forgets about her existence. Having had an awful start to her 1st London season, “knowing” she is not a beauty Bella only hopes for someone to take her away from her father & brothers and care for her. Newly minted peer, shipping magnate Myron Clewes is searching for a bride. Not just any bride but one that will leave her family & everything she knows for a life at sea. Spotting Bella at a party he thinks he might have found the one. After a whirlwind courtship, Myron is speaking with Bella’s uncle when her father makes an appearance. Shocked & disgusted with the way the man treats Bella brings out Myron’s protective side & knows he must get Bella away. (He’ll be shocked further once they have set sail.) What follows is a sweet, comfortable love story. Although not the type to sweep the girl off her feet is a love of mutual admiration. Myron helps Bella develop the strength & determination to voice her opinions & to stand up for herself. This is the first book of Mariana Gabrielle’s that I have read & have completely fallen in love with her writing. Having this insight into the character gives a new understanding of where she came from & what drives her in Royal Regard. Was so into the story that I had to immediately start Royal Regard. A definite add to my favorite author list!!!
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    Not a common romance

    Since this was the first story that I have read in this series, I'm glad I started with the prequel. I was not familiar with the characters, but it allowed me to get a fresh perspective on their backgrounds and personalities. This story is definitely different than a common romance. Matter of fact, there wasn't too much romance to be had for poor Bella. I couldn't help feeling sorry for her. Being labeled a wallflower and constantly reminded by her own family members that she is ugly, makes Bella shy, distant, and nervous around others. Eager to marry her off to anyone willing, her family forces Bella to attend gatherings. Bella's overbearing Aunt Minerva certainly is one that is not pleasant to be around. But she has no choice as the Effingale's have generously taken Bella in after her Father's many nefarious actions. It seems that Bella is harassed on both sides. Mentally and physically. She sees her savior in Baron Holsworthy, a much older man recently promoted by the Prince and ordered to find a wife. "His greying hair was long, loose, and wild, and the lines on his face were deep, as though they had been carved with a chisel. Much older-perhaps even older than her father..." Baron Holsworthy is not the typical hero that I'm used to and I was feeling apprehensive for Bella. Their relationship is not a wild romance. No real attraction, but more of a mutual respect. The Baron, needing a wife to take with him to sea and Bella needing a husband to take her away from her family. However, I believe that it's the Baron who finally brings out the strengths in Bella. In instances away from her family, she finally finds her voice. The first instance is when she is called before the Prince to be assessed of her capability to be the Baron's wife. "If I can speak to the royal family of England, I suppose I can learn to speak to anyone." Bella continues her journey on the ship as a married woman. It presents to her more instances where her strength is tested and she continues to grow as a person. My thoughts: I really enjoyed this story. However, I was not too fond of the Baron. He did show his sweet side but there was an underlying temper in his countenance. His outlook on love was a little bleak and only that of producing an heir. "Your only duty to me now is providing me a strong, healthy wife as soon as possible. As such, I will delay the pursuit of an heir for the nonce." Bella comes to accept that there is no passion but she does have a good protector in the Baron. She is definitely in a place a lot better than where she was. I do hope love finds her. Her story is not over yet.
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    Artful storytelling!

    This was my first encounter with Bella Smithson, the heroine of Royal Regard. In this prequel novella we learn a little about her background, family life, and courtship. Bella's story is one that could have easily ended quite badly for her. With an abusive father and brothers who practicality sold her to an aged seafaring diplomat, the scenario screams of impending doom! Luckily for Bella, life with her husband turns out to be more pleasant and her "happy for the meanwhile" story.
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    Wonderful prequel!

    This is a wonderful prequel to Royal Regard. It will help you understand Bella's background and introduce you to Charlotte and Myron. While it made me wince at times, it left me cheering for Bella and her happiness.
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