You know how after you’ve been reading a particular genre for quite some time now and you’re already getting quite bored but you still keep looking for that refreshing new book in the same genre? Well that’s how I’ve been feeling about historical romance lately. After all, I’ve been reading it almost everyday for a year and the plots are getting quite redundant to my taste. I’m now veering away and going back to reading young adult and fantasy novels, and hopefully the books in my to-read pile will quite be up to speed.
Well this morning, I was browsing through my unread ebooks and I chanced upon Donna Macmeans’s The Education of Mrs. Brimley. I opened it and found it quite interesting for a few minutes…so much so that I have continued to read it until I finished. Unlike the other historical romance books that left me quite excited and cheerful and others that have left me unsatisfied and bored, this one just left me with a little glow of satisfaction.
Apparently, it’s her debut novel. If this can be a foreshadowing of how satisfying her other books can be, then I’ll make sure to get her other books.
This is the plot from Goodreads:
Emma Brimley made one small fib in her application to teach at the Pettibone School for Young Ladies: She claimed to be a widow. But when she arrives in Yorkshire, she is dismayed to learn that she's expected to prepare her students for the intimacies of marriage—of which she knows nothing! Her only hope of maintaining her place lies with the alluring Lord Nicholas Chambers, a neighboring artist whose behavior is scarcely consistent with that of a gentleman.
True to his reputation, "Lord Bedchambers" offers Emma a scandalous bargain: He will answer her questions about anatomy and bedroom etiquette if she will pose for him...in the Grecian fashion. Though keenly aware of the dangers of such a scenario, Emma determines to best this noble roué—never thinking she may be risking her heart as well.
The plot is actually simple and certainly not that original. But it doesn’t have too complicated twists and turns. Sure, there have been some curveballs thrown at the main characters along the way of their budding romance, but the story quite revolved around the attraction Emma felt for Lord Bedchambers. The plot was not so ambitious that it left me feeling quite dissatisfied. It was plain for me that the book is about precisely what the title suggests – the education of Emma in the romantic/seduction arts. What I did find interesting was that this is the first book I have read so far where the school offers to teach the students the ways to please their husband. After all, talking about such intimate matters to virgins, especially those in the schoolroom, is not quite the norm in those days.
Throughout the story, we slowly see how Emma transform from a timid weed into a beautiful goddess. We also see Chambers become a better man. I think the improvement of characters is one that is sorely lacking in other books. The plot is interspersed with seduction techniques, which were also amusing to read. The eagerness of the young ladies for instruction were funny. But far more interesting was the interest that the headmistress, Cecilia, and her younger sister, Beatrice, have shown towards Emma’s tutelage.
Chambers is not your typical historical romance character. He was neither a rake nor was he a man too immersed in his books to pay attention to the world. He was just a painter who wanted recognition from his father that he did have art. Furthermore, their family relations were not so strained as to be unbearable. By the end of the story, we find more delightful surprises that would just endear Chambers to you more.
The book ends with an epilogue that gives us a glimpse that resolves some other questions that you would probably have while reading. I checked out the next two books in the story but they were not what I was looking for – which is to find out what eventually happened to Cecilia and Beatrice, especially the latter who seemed the more romantic and fanciful sort. I think there’s also a reason why Cecilia is so against rakes, as evidenced by her aversion to Chambers in the first part of the book. It would be nice to find out more about the characters’ future in the story too. Lastly, I like Donna MacMeans’ website; it’s clean and organized and still pretty and feminine. I’m looking forward to reading other books by this author.