Monday, March 20, 2017

"The Elusive Miss Ellison" by Carolyn Miller

When I first heard of The Elusive Miss Ellison, it was being promoted for fans of Georgette Heyer, Lori Wick, and Julie Klassen. While I had to look up Heyer, Wick was my favorite inspirational romance author for many years, and Klassen is currently one of my favorite writers.

That was enough to get me to check out the book.

"Handsome appearance counts for naught unless matched by good character and actions." That's the firm opinion of not-so-meek minister's daughter Lavinia Ellison. So even though all the other villagers of St. Hampton Heath are swooning over the newly returned seventh Earl of Hawkesbury, she is not impressed. If a man won't take his responsibilities seriously and help those who are supposed to be able to depend on him, he deserves no respect from her. In Lavinia's pretty, gray eyes, Nicholas Stamford is just as arrogant and reckless as his brother--who stole the most important person in Livvie's world.

Nicholas is weighed down by his own guilt and responsibility, by the pain his careless brother caused, and by the legacy of war he's just left. This quick visit home to St. Hampton Heath will be just long enough to ease a small part of that burden. Asking him to bother with the lives of the villagers when there's already a bailiff on the job is simply too much to expect. That is, until the hoydenish, intelligent, and very opinionated Miss Ellison challenges him to see past his pain and pride. With her angelic voice in his head, he may even be beginning to care. But his isn't the only heart that needs to change.

These two lonely hearts may each have something the other needs. But with society's opposition, ancestral obligations, and a shocking family secret, there may be too many obstacles in their way.

Fans of Georgette Heyer, Lori Wick, and Julie Klassen will enjoy the spirited exchanges between the bluestocking minister's daughter and the bruised war hero as they move past pride and presumption to a humbled appreciation of God's grace and the true strength of love.

I'll be honest: when I started reading The Elusive Miss Ellison, I wasn't sure what I'd gotten myself into. I had a hard time getting into the rhythm of the writing—I felt like I was reading something from Jane Austen's time, rather than something written now, and I encountered several words I was unfamiliar with. I also didn't have much love for either Lavinia—who was quick to judge, unforgiving, and prideful—or Nicholas—who was haughty and rather mean.

If I hadn't agreed to review this book, I might have given up about four chapters into it. And if I'd done that, I would have missed out on a really great story!

With shades of Pride & Prejudice and Beauty and the Beast, The Elusive Miss Ellison really picked up (at least for me) about a third of the way into the novel. At that point, events caused Lavinia and Nicholas to spend more time together and really get to know each other—to see past their preconceived notions. Also, both had a spiritual awakening of sorts—I was pleasantly surprised by the faith thread in this book, which felt realistic and showed the importance of not just having faith in Christ, but in allowing Him to continually refine you.

There's also a twist in the novel that I didn't anticipate and greatly enjoyed, and I loved the interactions between Lavinia and Nicholas, as well as with their friends and family.

The Elusive Miss Ellison is, overall, a very enjoyable novel, and I'm glad I kept going past the first few chapters! I highly recommend it to regency romance fans. 4 stars.

Buy the book.

Carolyn Miller lives in New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn's novels have won a number of RWA and ACFW contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from Kregel Publications. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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