THE SUMMER OF YOU
The Blue Raven, #2
By Kate Noble
2010. Paperback. 352pp. Berkley Trade.
After the adventures in London, Byrne Worth has retreated to his cottage on Merrymere Lake, where he is unbothered in his solitude. He likes it this way, he tells himself, he has his daily swim and no one around to bother him. At least, until Lady Jane Cummings and her family return to Merrymere.
Lady Jane is not having the summer she wanted. She was looking forward to spending time socializing in London, it serves as a nice break from dealing with her ailing father and the responsibilities of running the household while her brother is away. Unfortunately, her brother has returned and decided he’s back in charge.
Kate Noble’s second book in the Blue Raven Series, The Summer of You follows Lady Jane Cummings to Merrymere Lake after her brother returns from his travels and decides it’s better for their father to be at Merrymere. He thinks she’ll go quietly like a good young woman, but she isn’t going without a fight. As her father’s condition gets worse and her brother continues avoiding the responsibilities, Lady Jane finds a surprising confidant in Byrne Worth. The town has decided he’s the highwayman robbing them in their travels, but Lady Jane is not so convinced. She comes up with a plan to help clear his name and he begrudgingly goes along with it. Along the way, they both realize maybe trying to do things on their own isn’t always the best way and maybe it’s easier with a supporter.
Although most romance novels can feel old hat, Kate Noble’s work always feels so refreshing, even after reading a few in a row! I was feeling a bit down the night I read this book and it definitely helped. They mystery was well-written and just as central to the novel as the romance and the sub-plots. Of course, there was the “next in the series” couple set-up, but I even found that couple to be charming rather than trite! One thing that always particularly impresses me about Noble’s writing is the characterizations. The women aren’t what would normally “go” in the time period, but they’re well-written and well-fleshed out, so it’s easy enough to believe these characters would know each other and get along as they do in the books. It’s also easy to see that she does her research for the time period and the locations. I’ve traveled a bit in England and Ireland and the settings are fully realized and historically plausible. It’s always nice to read something where the author clearly cares as much about the accuracy of the setting as they do the accuracy of their characters.
Grumpy man meets charming woman and is changed is a standard trope in romance novels, as well as teaming up to solve a mystery. Although there were a few obvious “twists” to the story, they weren’t trying. It’s easy to get caught in keeping the story in the boundaries of the genre and Noble doesn’t stray too far from the “usual” romance storyline, but the characters and the story were enjoyable nonetheless. There were even a few non-standard surprises thrown in for variety. I really disliked Lady Jane’s brother and was very pleased when he finally got over himself towards the end of the book.
If you’ve gotten tired of the popular romance authors, give Kate Noble’s books a try! She’s written a few romance novels under the name Kate Noble, as well as The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet and The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet as Kate Rorick. Her romance novels (as well as the Pride and Prejudice video series she started out working on) are refreshing takes on a genre that can be full of over-done tropes and storylines.