Anna's Reviews > The Famous Heroine / The Plumed Bonnet

The Famous Heroine / The Plumed Bonnet by Mary Balogh
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Nov 09, 11

Read in November, 2011

Ahh, Mary Balogh. How I love you.

I am so glad the backlist is being published.

The Famous Heroine is Cora Downes, who has her "15 minutes of fame" due to a couple of incidents which are much overblown. She is lauded for saving the young nephew of a duke from drowning, when in reality the boy knows how to swim and she does not, and they are both helped by Cora's brother. Later, she attempts to rescue some small dogs from being trampled by a horse, but the dogs really were never in any real danger. In the book it is all humorous, but it's the kind of thing we see every day in our modern world--stories that are exaggerated by the media.

Of course in the 19th century there was no radio or television, but there were newspapers, and among London's society, gossip was a major pastime.

Cora is not of the aristocracy; she is a merchant's daughter but goes to London for the Season with the grandmother of the young boy she rescued. It doesn't take long for Cora to get into a couple of scrapes with Lord Francis Kneller, a friend of the Duke of Bridgwater (who is sponsoring Cora in society) and Lord Francis does the honorable thing and marries Cora.

Francis still thinks himself in love with Samantha (from Lord Carew's Bride) and it takes a long time for him to realize that he has feelings for Cora.

Cora was a lovable heroine; my problem with her was that she was just too self-effacing.

The Plumed Bonnet was even better. The Duke of Bridgwater finds his wife in this book in an odd manner. While traveling toward London for the Season, he spies a woman walking along the road in a bright colored cloak and a bonnet with wildly colored large plumes. He literally picks her up and listens to her tale of being a governess, receiving a large inheritance, traveling to collect said inheritance, and being robbed of her valise and money along the way. He is hugely entertained by what he considers to be her web of lies and intends to make her his mistress.

When they arrive at her new home, the Duke finds out that she is actually an innocent who has told the truth and she is now an heiress. Since he has spent 3 days in company with her in a closed carriage, and they have spent nights without a chaperone in an inn, she is compromised and they must marry.

The Duke brings Stephanie to his mother's home in London and enlists his mother's aid in making and shaping Stephanie into a lady fit to be a duchess. After a time, she rebels and there is much tension--which grows when he finally confesses to her that upon their meeting he thought she was a liar.

Their story works out when he brings her to his country home and she is able to be herself, and has the time to get to know the duke as a person.

Very satisfying read.
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