Thursday, August 2, 2012

Book Review: Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

Fearsomely practical Althea Crawley, who also happens to be a great beauty, has one goal in life - to marry a very wealthy man, thus ensuring her own future as well as that of her mother and small brother, Alexander.  Althea also has the misfortune of being the caretaker of a very large, very ridiculous castle, built on the Yorkshire cliffs overlooking the sea by her overly romantic great-grandfather.  Three generations later, her grandfather's folly, now Althea's very eccentric home, is quite literally falling apart around her family's ears.

Still, Althea is very fond of her home, and her family - even if she is not so very fond of her stepsisters, the penny-pinching Prudence and Charity, who are neither prudent nor charitible.  So when Lord Boring announces that he is to throw a ball, Althea feels sure that it will draw scads of eligible wealthy bachelors from London.  Surely one of them will be willing to overlook her lack of fortune for her beauty and modest title.
When Lord Boring himself seems to be taking an interest in Althea, she is overjoyed.  An excellent dancer, easy to talk to, and not at all difficult to look at, he is an excellent prospective husband - indeed, one that Althea had not dared set her sights on.  Unfortunately, Lord Boring also seems to come along with Mr. Fredericks, Lord Boring's friend and a sort of cousin.  Honest and inquisitive to the point of rudeness, Lord Fredericks is always around and underfoot, his curiousity and forthrightness never failing to get in the way of Althea's marriage machinations - or of her personal peace and sanity.

Jane Austen-o-philes will recognize Althea and Mr. Fredericks's quarreling and sniping right away - and know who to cheer for in the contest for Althea's hand!  Regency romantic comedy at its finest, Keeping the Castle is laugh-out-loud funny in bits, and swoon-worthily romantic in others.  When you're not ready to throttle Charity and Prudence, shake Lord Boring (and his dreadful mother), or sweep little Alexander up in a hug, you'll want to go on a good ramble through Castle Crawley or join a riding party across the moors of Lesser Hoo with Althea - with Mr. Fredericks at a safe distance, of course!  If Mr. Darcy was your first literary crush, you've got to get your hands on this sweet little gem of a novel.

(now reading My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick - oh swoon!  We're talking Sarah Dessen and Stephanie Perkins-level awesome summer romance here, people!)

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