Lighthearted Victorian Medical Play
This is a lighthearted story of a young innocent woman, Cassandra, caught in a tight spot between Victorian social expectations and the unthinkable prospect of marrying a thoroughly hateful man thanks to her father's irresponsible behavior. I enjoy Regency/Victorian romances, but often struggle with premises like this because they are so hard for my modern mind to accept. My thoughts scream, "Just say, NO WAY!" to marrying a man so awful, but I have to let that bit of common sense go to just enjoy Cassandra's conundrum. This author has a lovely writing style and a deft touch with humor that I enjoy very much.
Although Cassandra has a tendency to be rather rash with her behavior, she is a very likeable heroine - goodhearted, brave, intelligent, and tenacious (or stubborn depending on one's point of view). She decides to fake a case of female hysteria in order to get out of her betrothal, which isn't a bad idea, but she has no idea what the Victorian method is for dealing with such a malady. The history of women's medicine is so horrible, filled with such ridiculous assumptions based on the idea that women are inferior and delicate, that this bit of historical treatment for hysterics is a relative bright spot. At least a woman could lay back.... *cough* .... and enjoy this treatment. Still, I found Dr. Henry Sutherland a bit hard to take at times. He was rather full of himself, but he was also aware of his own hypocrisy and, for the most part, had Cassandra's best interests at heart. Too often stories of this sort base much of the action on misunderstandings and stupidly kept secrets. I loved that in this story that didn't go on for very long at all - Cassandra was honest with Henry and that was so refreshing!
There is no indication that this story has a sequel - other than being part of a series - but there are several loose ends left at the end that I hope are dealt with in a future book. The relationship is mostly resolved, but the evil Radcliffe is yet to get his full comeuppance - which I greatly look forward to!