Sunday, May 27, 2012


Jayne Fresina’s Regency historical, The Most Improper Sophie Valentine, is an engaging, subversive and very funny story about the masks people wear and the futility of trying to suppress one’s true nature.

Outside, Miss Sophie Valentine is the picture of propriety. Inside, the seethes with frustrated scandalous yearnings. Which is why sent an advertisement for a husband to The Farmers Gazette in the Livestock for Sale section.

Mr. Lazarus Kane answers her ad. He dresses and speaks like a gentleman. But his shoulders are broad, his body work-hardened and his hands rough. And he wants no woman other than Sophie.

The Most Improper Sophie Valentine is a throwback to Jane Austen. Like Miss Austen, Ms. Fresina writes mainly about the minor gentry and the farmers below. I'm tired of reading about rich, powerful noblemen, and this book about people who make their own way with little or no help from others is a welcome change.

Sophie is a delight. She is forthright and opinionated, which is anathema in a world that trains women to be brainless idiots who bow down to men who are even more brainless. For ten long years, she’s tried and failed to make herself over. She’s almost caved in, when Lazarus arrives to prevent her from completely succumbing to the pressure of her ghastly family (except for her aunt) and the appallingly sheeplike townspeople.

I also like Lazarus. He’s survived a hard life and makes no apologies for what he’s had to do. He’s decent, kind, hard-working, intelligent and has secrets. He’s also gorgeous, and we do like our gorgeous heroes. *g*

The Most Improper Sophie Valentine is rich with Regency texture. The characters are true to their time while exhibiting an individuality which refuses to bow down to the wrong-headed ideas of more conventional people. I love how Ms. Fresina mocks the upper classes and their pretentions of superiority by having their actions prove that they’re no better than anyone else.

By turns humorous, serious, emotional and mysterious, the book engages us as we cheer on Sophie and Lazarus and their unconventional courtship.

I liked this book very much. I’ve already pre-ordered Ms. Fresina’s next book, The Wicked Wedding of Miss Ellie Vyne.

Thank you all,
ARC provided by Sourcebooks


Jayne said...

Thank you for the lovely review. So glad you enjoyed the book!

Linda Banche said...

You're very welcome, Jayne.