With His Lady’s Assistance by Cheryl Bolen
Book Review by Miguelina Perez
Ms. Bolen’s “With His Lady’s Assistance” is a beautiful love story mixed with humor, murder, fact, and fiction. Bolen uses a threat against the Prince Regent as her plot to thrust her hero and heroine together into an investigation that will take them from finding a killer to finding love. There is a brilliant element to the story as Bolen consistently mocks the social manners and peerage of the era—evident through the eyes of her hero.
Captain Jack Dryden is a spy for the British monarchy and the best according to his superiors. Bolen’s novel starts with him being called back home by the Prince Regent. Apparently, he needs Dryden’s assistance in finding out who is trying to kill him. Jack being the son of a country squire is paired off with the eccentric Lady Daphne Chalmers as her phony fiancé in order to gain access into the peerage and hopefully find the killer before he succeeds.
Lady Daphne Chalmers, the eldest of the Chalmers girls, is unlike any heroine you will find. She is smart, witty, and unlike any of her fair sex, she can best any of her male counterparts. But because of her awkwardness and plainness she remains unwed, much to the chagrin of her family. So, you can imagine their surprise and joy when they learn that their ugly duckling is suddenly with a fiancé, not only because they did not know she was being courted, but also because they felt it odd that anyone would be interested in her. Don’t get me wrong, Daphne was loved by her parents and sisters – they had just lost hope of her ever finding someone to love because of her oddity.
To Captain Dryden’s surprise Lady Daphne is as unconventional as they can get. He is thrown into one loop after another as the lady humorously develops story plots to further their investigation while often risking it. I found many of the humorous scenes between the two of them refreshing and excellently executed.
Lady Daphne’s peaceful world is thrown into chaos as she discovers her partner in the investigation is not only handsome, but a man of great integrity, patriotism, and of high values. Both Captain Dryden and Lady Daphne are alike in that they hold their values high and the sacrifices they make are always for the benefit of another, unlike many of their peers.
When the Captain first meets Lady Daphne he is convinced of her plainness. He also learns through her cynicism her dislike of her own society as men and women are shown to be adulterous, gamblers, and living in the moment with no consequence or thought for tomorrow. As a product of society Daphne is seen plain, tall, unkept, and blind. But under Captain Dryden’s moral values and love, she begins to flourish and become a beauty. Bolen cleverly brings about her transformation through vivid prose from the hero’s perspective. I found it interesting that while Captain Dryden was of the world, he was naive to the ways of upper society, while Daphne was not of the world but was knowledgeable in the ways of the worlds. I found this role reversal refreshing.
From a reader’s perspective and one who usually likes reading from the point of view of the heroine, it took me a little to realize that I was reading mainly from the hero’s POV. However, because I was pulled in by the plot and plight of the main characters, I did not seem to mind at all. In the end I was glad not to have let my reading preferences ruin the opportunity to read the entire story.
Bolen is a masterful storyteller who brings us enchanting love stories that offer fresh outlooks on love, while combining humor and mystery. In “With His Lady’s Assistance” she brilliantly creates a world true to the manners, language, fashions, and social etiquette’s of the period, while simultaneously introducing people who were very much alive at the time and the morals that were either upheld by a few and lost by many.
Please do not wait to get your copy of “With His Lady’s Assistance” at:
About the Reviewer
Ms. Miguelina Perez is a writer, and jewelry artist. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of the District of Columbia. As a jewelry artist one of her lariats was showcased in the San Antonio Express-News. She has won several awards including a critical Writing award for an essay on the gender roles of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.
It was during her high school years at the school’s library that she first encountered her first romance mystery writer – Ms. Victoria Holt and then Ms. Phyllis J. Whitney. Her love of romance novels stems from those discoveries, especially the Romance mystery genre.
Several of her poems have been published in anthologies, and she was named “Poet of Year in 1995”. She finished her first book, The Vicar’s Deadly Sin – a Regency romance mystery, the first of a seven-part serial based on the Seven Deadly Sins.
Currently, she is editing the sequel to the Vicar’s Deadly Sin, “Angel’s Lust.” Her next project is a contemporary romance thriller called “A Hero of Her Own.”
You can read Miguelina's column on the 3rd Saturday each month here at Pandora's Box Gazette.