I'm used to writing reviews for books that fall into genres of usual preference: historical and literary fiction, history, and topical nonfiction. Reading Royal Regard, a Regency Romance novel, and writing a review have been ventures into the unknown and mysterious.
Happily, I can say that Royal Regard was a most enjoyable experience. Author Mariana Gabriele is a proven professional writer and editor, and my high expectations for quality of writing and editorial excellence were soundly met. The story is set in an era which was unfamiliar to me; some preliminary research revealed that the cast of principal characters are part of a world of rarefied aristocracy and wealth that makes the upstairs crowd at Downton Abbey look more to the middle-class side.
Story and character development proceed at a brisk yet comfortable pace. Female lead Isabella (Bella) Huntleigh, a member of the minor aristocracy cast out by her family but come to wealth and high social position by way of marriage to a good and sympathetic man of commerce twice her age, finds herself in the middle of the treacherous environment of the highest London society after a dozen years of traveling the world with her husband, assisting him with his business. To complicate Bella's new and unfamiliar circumstances, her husband Myron, Lord Huntleigh, is known to be dying and she known to be the sole beneficiary of his vast estate.
Bella is a complex young woman, shaped both by her grim childhood and her happy yet passionless marriage to Lord Huntleigh, beautiful of person and socially adept, but deeply lacking in confidence and seemingly unaware of her effect on the predatory male aristocrats who immediately begin to circle her like hungry sharks.
Suffice to say that Bella is in for a difficult life that will gradually bring her to new confidence, personal strength, and a lasting love, but test her to the utmost limits at every step. The author's own passion is revealed through the exposition of Bella's character and those of other principal characters, giving this 'romance novel' a quality of literary fiction seldom seen in the Romance genre. Highly Recommended!
(reviewed the day of purchase)