Hachette Book Group, USA and Australia, 2021
Cover design Daniela Medina
This debut Regency romance by Samara Parish is also a good publishing story about someone who wrote, worked on despite discouragements and then hit paydirt with an American contract for a 3 book series. One can but revel in this.
In this case, the author has used the conventions of the Regency romance form but has added the twist of a wealthy heroine who becomes married to an apparently working-class man, an industrialist no less who has invented and produced a steam engine on his rural estate. For though Benedict, the dashing and kindly hero, appears to have sloughed off all notions of nobility, he turns out to be wealthy and well connected.
All of this is as nought however for the heroine Lady Amelia, who is dragooned into a marriage with Benedict by societal and family pressure after an unfortunate incident at the beginning of the story.
She had been engaged for years to the Duke of Wildeforde, raised to be a leading light in the nobility, but, as the story begins, is relegated to ‘the sticks’, looked down on by those she previously considered friends due to her apparently reduced circumstances. Her efforts to hold her head up in high society seem to be stymied at every turn.
But this is a heroine made of stern stuff – she’s intelligent, a great organiser, determined to be informed and not afraid of getting her hands dirty when she has to (though she quails at the notion of anyone finding out).
Samara Parish provides in this book an interesting study of the changing times, as the Industrial Revolution brings changes of all kinds to English society. The working man begins to have a forceful voice, the role of women starts to shift ever so slightly, the entrenched values of a stratified society with rigid class rules are eroded.
Albeit that the underfelt of the story is English history and the nature of society in those changing times, this is of course primarily a love story. The two main players learn to love one another rather than being instantly smitten. They are aware of each other’s weaknesses, but their love allows them to forge a relationship despite everything that plays against this.
When the chips are down, they support one another and are willing to forego something of their own egos and surrender to the passion and care their relationship ultimately embodies.
Romance fiction is no doubt such a popular genre because it allows the reader to believe in happy endings. No matter the realities of the times or the reader’s personal life, for a time he or she can disappear into the glorious fiction of a happy ever after, a love that overcomes obstacles and comes out better at the other end, of a process that also makes the characters better at the end.
The second and third Samara Parish romances are not far away and will doubtlessly delight her readers, who will wait with anticipation for her particular take on the Regency world.
Thank you to Dymocks Canberra (and Hachette) for my review copy and to Samara for such a delightful chat about romance writing.