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A Garden Folly

(Country House Party #1)

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  865 ratings  ·  69 reviews
alt cover for ASIN: B004YWHNKU

Two sisters on the edge of poverty have a chance to meet wealthy, titled, unmarried gentlemen when they are unexpectedly invited to a house party at a famous country estate owned by the Duke of Carlisle. Though courted by a wealthy earl, Catherine Forsythe finds herself falling for the handsome estate gardener and faced with the choice of
Kindle Edition
Published May 1st 2011 by Candice (first published 1997)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
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 ·  865 ratings  ·  69 reviews

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Ivy H
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
4 stars for enjoyment
3 stars for quality

This Regency romance was very sweet and lovely, and I had a really good time reading it. Our heroine, Miss Catherine Forsythe, is a penniless young woman as stubborn as a mule and determined, I repeat, determined to get out of poverty somehow. And here we're talking about real, actual poverty, as in bread-and-water for dinner and barely any clothes and furniture as possessions. Fortunately though, Aunt Hetty (with whom Catherine lives with her sister
Blacky *Romance Addict*
This was a very sweet read Photobucket about a duke pretending to be a gardener and trying to win the heart of one woman by making her love only him, not his title Photobucket

The Duke of Carlisle is rumored to be Photobucket ...touched in the head Photobucket But he is in fact a botanist, often spending his time in his garden and avoiding society as much as he can. Stephen can afford to be excentric of course, being the only eligible duke in the kingdom. His mother organises a country party, but he refuses to attend, forcing her to
Mar 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Catherine Forsythe, along with her sister and Aunt, are invited to spend a month at the Dowager Duchess of Carlisle's house party. Meanwhile her son, the Duke aka Stephen Archibald [...] Manwaring is "not in residence" which is code for UNDERCOVER. As a gardener. So he can built a fancy greenhouse I MEAN MODERN GLASS CONSERVATORY PARDON MY FRENCH. Stephen runs into the beguiling Catherine and finds himself ENTRANCED until she makes plain the fact that she needs to marry for money. Then his warm ...more
Dec 21, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: no-no-no-no-no
This was the story about a fabulously wealthy duke who was miserable because he couldn't tell if people liked him for who he was, or for his title and money and his relationship with a poor noblewoman whose parents had died, leaving her and her sister virtually penniless and one step out of the poor house years ago. She watched her sister, her aunt, and herself go through horrible circumstances without complaint, and when the chance came for her to marry into money, she decided she would take it ...more
In landscape design, a garden folly is a structure whose only objective is to deceive. They have no purpose other than as ornament—to delight the eye and draw one to their door to evoke a romantic scene or time. How apt that author Candice Hern chose to name her Regency romance A Garden Folly, since her main characters are follies themselves.

Set at the Kent grand country estate of the Duke of Carlisle, two impoverished sisters impersonate aristocrats to entrap rich husbands, while the wealthy
Jan 04, 2015 rated it it was ok
I like that Stephen and Catherine developed a relationship based on mutual interests and admiration rather than because the plot demanded it, but I'm not sure I liked either of them. Despite her experience in poverty, she still holds tradespeople (or "cits") in contempt, treats her ancestry as proof of her superiority, and (view spoiler). Much as I disliked her attitude, it is consistent with the time period and her ...more
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was ok
The beginning of this story was really enjoyable. I liked the interactions between the H/h. Then it all went downhill when she revealed her motives. (In other words, she was honest and practical while he remained a spoiled liar.) The "hero" became judgmental, unsympathetic and a stalker. That's the opposite of romantic. I really didn't like how the last 2/3 of this book played out.
The next book with Miles as the hero is SO much better. I recommend reading that one instead.
Jun 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Catherine Forsythe and her sister need to marry a fortune, or at the end at least one of them must. The girl's are living in near poverty thanks to their late father's mismanagement. They are invited to a country house party by the Dowager Duchess of Carlisle, who knew their aunt as a girl. With a plan set in place the ladies set off to find their husbands.

You know what they say about best laid plans....

The Duke, Stephen, hates his mother's parties and assumes people only care about him for his
Review originally posted at Tea, Toast & Books.

In Brief: Catherine Forsythe and her sister Susannah have been reduced to poverty, so when an invitation to a house party arrives, Catherine knows they must make the most of the opportunity to find wealthy husbands. A certain head gardener at the ducal estate has some different ideas, though….

I Thought: I wasn’t as immediately drawn into the story as I was with The Best Intentions. (It really might be unfair to read the two out of order, and so
Serena Ivo
Feb 13, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. This book is the tamer of Hern's dare-to-be-tame romances and benefits from character dynamics that feel more natural than her other novels. Overall, the book moves along pleasingly and satisfies a sweet tooth without castrating the hero to accomplish the effect. The reader expects at any moment the heroine's complete undoing in a public scene. That expectation is met but in a slightly different way; the eventual reveal Miss Forsythe duly deserves.
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: not-read
I'm really enjoying this regency romance challenge! I have never read Ms. Hern's novels till this challenge and her book are wonderful. There light, romantic and with the right amount of angst.

This story is about 2 sisters(Catherine & Susannah) of a gentleman baron who are left destitute on his death. They're living with an Aunt who is barely getting by and with no income for the three, life looks bleak. Then a turn of fate, Aunt Hattie runs into an old friend who invite her and her nieces
Christy English
Aug 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love this book! Candice Hern has done a wonderful job of making the world of Regency England come to life. This novel is charming, romantic, and sweet. I adore it. For all those who love Georgette Heyer, this book is for you.
3.5 Nice, uncomplicated mistaken identity story. Little bit too sweet for me and I did not particularly like the hero's way of creating HEA.
Feb 28, 2019 rated it liked it
This was an enjoyable read, and I thought the premise was interesting. One thing that did bother me was how dismissive Stephen was of Catherine's desire to marry well. He acted like she was a horrible person and even called her greedy for her decision to look for a husband among the house party. Even when it is pointed out to him that she was living in abject poverty and was simply trying to improve her circumstances, that most women were attending with the same goal, that his friend had ...more
Sep 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enjoyable romance

I've followed Candice Hern's Facebook page for some time and was always curious Scott get books as I felt she probably had a style that described clothing and scenery in more detail than most contemporary regency romance authors. I would say that Hern's style is not at all jarring, like some others, there is nothing that makes me feel the story was lacking in research. It was easy to get lost in.
I liked the characters, the plot is an old one though well executed.
I really
Justyna Małgorzata
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Charming! seriously, I had fun reading this book. The characters are not your standard rake & heroine duo: a garden lover who prefers the plants over people (a rumored half-wit!) and an open-minded, clever, if a bit headstrong girl. There is also no arch-enemy in the story which is quite pleasant - you can simply enjoy the relationship between the mcs without tormenting over someone's intrigues. The result is a sweet, heart warming story with a satisfying happy ending.
Oct 14, 2018 rated it liked it
A good enough read, although oddly from time to time, Hern seemed to be channeling Kathryn Le Veque. I came away with no real interest in the characters, but I do want to know who, or even what, MacDougal really is.
Jessica Hubbard
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I’ve now read almost all of Ms Herns works. They are each delightful in their own ways. The only thing I regret is that I did not read Garden Folly prior to reading “The Best Intentions” but it didn’t really hurt except I knew who Catherine would not be marrying.
Mar 31, 2019 rated it liked it
I have issues with characters that knowingly engage in romance while also hiding their identity. Like, at first it's okay, but when it gets to the point where he's like 'I NEED TO BE SURE SHE'S WILLING TO ABANDON EVERYTHING SHE'S EVER WANTED EVEN THOUGH I AM CAPABLE OF PROVIDING IT' that it gets...
Susannah Carleton
A lovely mistaken identity story. Stephen Manwaring, the Duke of Carlisle, learned at the age of ten that most people liked him because he was the duke, not for himself. For years he has left his estate during his mother's annual house party, to avoid all the fawning and false flattery. This year, however, he cannot leave: his new greenhouse is at a critical stage of construction, and he must supervise the workers. His mother has reluctantly agreed to tell anyone who asks that he is not in ...more
Apr 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance, ebook
This is my second Hern, and I am equally charmed by it as I was by the first one I read.

Our heroine Catherine is poor. Like no-meat-for-dinner poor. But she gets this one shining chance to go to a summer house party and secure her future. She must marry well or her options are pretty much non-existent, and she worries about the fate of her elderly aunt and her beautiful but gormless older sister (who reminded me forcibly of Charis in Venetia, a loving tribute, I'm sure).

She is a woman on a
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance, regency-era
I loved this. The characters were very well drawn out for us. Caroline really has a hard time figuring out what to do with her choices. Marry for money or marry for love...whew. The descriptions of the country house, scenery, gardens, flowers, painting, sketching, etc. was great. It is sad in that women of course had so few choices when ones parents die...especially young ones. Susannah and Caroline are very fortunate to have their aunt to be able to take them in and love them as her own even in ...more
May 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Two sisters Catherine & Susannah of a gentleman baron are penniless after their father squandered their fortune before his unseemly death are living with their Aunt who is a poor widow herself and barely scraping by on foodstuffs. They are invited to a grand country estate for a garden part by a Duchess who went to school with the aunt. Catherine is convinced this is their opportunity to catch a rich husband and hopes that Susannah as the older and more beautiful of the two blondes will ...more
Jan 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I am familiar with Candice Hern. I know I read some of her books back when Regency romances were really big ('80s/'90s). I don't know if I had more patience for stupidity back then or if her writing has changed or what, but I only got about 60 pages into this book before I couldn't take it. It was the butler, really. I mean when he found a leg of lamb for them that "would otherwise go to waste" because the family who bought it left for the country before it could be used--okay, I'll but that. ...more
Sep 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The perfect light-hearted read for those moments you just want something that entertains, without asking too much in return. If you are looking for a regency romance with all the humorous trimmings of an appropriately odd supporting cast, I recommend giving this a try. Reading this book may not have enhanced my brainpower, but it made me smile and it kept me reading. I also learned the invaluable lesson that one must never assume a gardener is not just a nobleman in disguise. I may lack the ...more
Nov 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this quick light G-rated regency. Stephen, the Duke of Carlisle wishes he could be loved for himself and not just as a rich duke. He gets his chance when he meets Catherine Forsythe in his own gardens. Disguising himself as head gardener of his own estate, he is bent on wooing her and have her fall in love with him. She is determined to marry a rich man for she and her sister and aunt are nearly destitute. But, she succumbs to the charms of the green eyed handsome gardener, but ...more
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Will be one of my favorite books! Truly outstanding!

Having read some reviews of this book on Goodreads, I feared I would be disappointed with the book. Far from it. It was entertaining, funny, and had so much wisdom. Someone wrote that they couldn't like the heroine because she wanted to mary for a vast fortune, but her faulty thinking was based on her belief that financial security equaled love.

Also, the Duke didn't intentionally plan to disguise himself as the gardner, it was Catherine's
The reclusive duke is avoiding his mother's guests. The poor heroine needs to marry money. She falls over the duke and takes him for the gardener. All good ingredients for a lot of soul-searching. Can she turn down the rich earl for the man she loves? It's almost cheating for him to be even richer and more aristocratic in the end.

There are some quite amusing incidents along the way involving exactly how they provide for a month-long stay with other members of the upper classes - I really feel
May 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It has been awhile since I read this story but I liked the development between the characters. I also liked how the issue of the heroine being broke and the realities of life is discussed.

This book really reminds me of the movie How to Marry a Millionaire with Lauren Bacall and Marilyn Monroe. They both have the ditzy beautiful girl who needs glasses and the main character needs to marry for money but falls in love with someone who appears to not have money.

All in all easy fun read.
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Candice Hern is the award-winning, bestselling author of historical romance novels set during the English Regency period. Her books have won praise for the "intelligence and elegant romantic sensibility" (Romantic Times) as well as "delicious wit and luscious sensuality (Booklist). Candice's award-winning website ( is often cited for its Regency World pages, where readers ...more

Other books in the series

Country House Party (2 books)
  • The Best Intentions (Country House Party, #2)