Friday 30 January 2015

The Vagabond Vicar by Charlotte Brentwood

Book cover - The Vagabond Vicar by Charlotte Brentwood
This historical romance deals with ambitious clergyman William Brook. He has a burning ambition to work abroad as a missionary in foreign climes. Currently William is based in London and ministers in very seedy areas, but he relishes the hard work and enjoys being needed by the people he helps. In William’s life he has never felt needed, as he was a surprise baby, being considerably younger than his two brothers and William’s birth started his mother’s descent into bad health. William is hopeful that he has proved his worth and will be sent off to minister abroad soon, but when he is offered a place it is instead as vicar to a small village. It would be the dream of most young clergymen to be offered a living like this, and career suicide to turn it down. With a heavy heart, therefore, William sets off for Amberley.

Meanwhile, in Amberley, Mrs Grant is despairing about the behaviour and future of her daughter Cecilia. She is a beautiful girl, but forgetful, flighty, and worst of all she will not apply herself to the task of husband-hunting despite her limited dowry. Cecilia only has one close friend and it’s surprising that her mother has allowed it; Amy was adopted by one of the villager families in Amberley and is now employed as a lady’s maid to the younger daughter of the main family in Amberley, the Barringtons. Whenever the Barrington ladies are at their home in Amberley, Amy is able to see Cecilia, even though Cecilia, as the daughter of a gentleman, is much higher in social standing. In fact, Mrs Grant has it in mind that Cecilia would do very nicely for the younger Barrington son, if he will have her, and she is intent on pushing together Cecilia and Mr Barrington as much as possible. Cecilia wants to make her mother happy, but foresees a long life ahead in which she will be an unhappy society wife so she is determined to try and enjoy herself now, while she is still able to.

Initially neither William nor Cecilia thinks very highly of the other but soon he realises that she has hidden depths and is unusually perceptive and Cecilia realises how truly William holds his convictions. But his future lies abroad and hers in society – doesn’t it?

I thought this was an enjoyable sweet romance, with a dash of drama that lovers of historical romance would probably enjoy. The only downsides for me were that some things, such as some of the words used and some of the behaviour seemed too modern, and class lines blurred too readily. I also felt that feelings developed a bit quickly in some areas and maybe lacked a bit of depth. Still, this was an enjoyable read and I liked William’s realisation relating to how his past had affected his attitude towards making relationships, which is something I hadn’t seen attempted in an historical romance before. I’d give this book 3½ stars.

*My thanks to the author, who provided me with an e-copy of this book for my honest review.

3.5 star read

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