The Mrs MacKinnons by Jayne Davis
England, 1799: A traumatised soldier returning to a derelict inheritance. A widow with a small son and a manipulative father.
Major Matthew Southam returns from India, hoping to put the trauma of war behind him and forget his past. Instead, he finds a derelict estate and a family who wish he’d died abroad.
Charlotte MacKinnon married without love to avoid her father’s unpleasant choice of husband. Now a widow with a young son, she lives in a small Cotswold village with only the money she earns by her writing.
Matthew is haunted by his past, and Charlotte is fearful of her father’s renewed meddling in her future. After a disastrous first meeting, can they help each other find happiness?
Elkin Hardcoves’ Review: 4.5-Stars
Today we would say the main character of the story, Matthew suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder; then he was simply another officer returned from India, to be envied or resented because of his wealth and title.
The inheriting of a derelict estate that must be restored is a wonderful backdrop not only for the Major, but Mrs. MacKinnons, the book’s other central character. The emotional roll and the opinions of others negatively impact both their lives and help draw them together.
Mrs. MacKinnons only wants to protect her son, but due to being a woman none of the men around her think she can handle raising her son alone. From an interfering father to the town magistrate, Mrs. Mac Kinnons is smothered in proposals.
Truly well written, authentic to the time period and incorporated action with not too much romance. The characters were well structured, relatable and I found myself rooting for Matthew. The writing showed the characters evolve throughout the narrative which I really enjoyed. The author also did this without dumbing it down and pointing out the obvious. This historical romance is full of humor and twists that will keep you turning pages to find out the conclusion.
If you are a fan of “Clean Romances.” or historical ones, then this one is for you.
DL Anderson’s Review: 4-Stars
The Mrs. MacKinnons by Jayne Davis
In this debut novel by Jayne Davis, the author indicates she was inspired by the works of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer (among “lots of other authors”) In the Mrs. MacKinnons, Davis has indeed brought the Regency era to life in a great detail along with a charming cast of characters.
The premise revolves around two stories of characters that seemingly have nothing in common. Major Matthew Southam returns home from his tour of duty in India following a near-fatal battle wound. Cynical and depressed, he faces another battlefront at home with a family that presumed him dead and gone. He also finds his stepmother and siblings have been more interested in London society than in caring for the ancestral estate. But now as the heir apparent, Matthew claims his title and begins work on renovations.
The parallel story features Mrs. Charlotte MacKinnon, widowed mother to a young son, Davie. She too, experiences troubles with an estranged family and must come to terms with her painful childhood while claiming her legacy at her mother’s funeral. Unlike most Regency Romances, this one is quite a slow-brewed story as both plotlines plod along for the first eight or so chapters before our two protags finally meet.
Of course, they are not on good terms at first, and Charlotte is determined not to marry while Matthew is more interested in getting drunk while contemplating every little task needed to breathe life into this neglected estate. But clearly a romance is brewing and soon enough Charlotte has her hands in helping Matthew primp up his estate while also maneuvering her own plans for her son’s future as well as her own.
For those who like detailed slow brewed Regency Romances, this one is worth the effort, although a good skimming will elicit enough information to piece together a decent story well worth reading. Unlike Miss Austen’s or Miss Heyer’s works, this one details far more non-essential information that would have been taken by authors and readers of a bygone era. Nevertheless, the characters are interesting and well-drawn, and there are quite an intriguing cast to meet in a gently told tale that evokes another time when life was slower and dictated by a strict moral and social code.
Four stars for a story well worth reading and adding to my ever-growing Regency Romance collection.
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