The Viscount and The Orphan by Rosemary Morris

The Viscount and The Orphan by Rosemary Morris
Publisher: BWL Publishing Inc.
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

This classic historical romance erupts in 1703 England.

Gabriel, Viscount Cavanagh is bankrupt, his fortune wasted on mistresses, extravagance, and gambling. Orphaned, emotionally neglected, deprived of his inheritance and his own person by his grandfather, Adam Maynard, his only option to avoid disaster is acceptance of an arranged marriage proposed by Adam, a ruthless merchant prince.

Adam summons his sixteen-year-old ward, wealthy Dorinda Davenport, from boarding school to be Gabriel’s bride. An orphan, she yearns for love. Well-educated, but naïve, she clings to her fantasy of a happy-ever-after marriage to a gentleman as handsome, and charming as her favourite fictional hero. Gabriel is the romantic hero of her dreams, but bitter disillusionment follows the wedding.

A connoisseur of beautiful women, Gabriel conceals his distaste when he meets dumpy, sallow-skinned, socially inept Dorinda. Nevertheless, he soon appreciates her innocence, intelligence, and kind heart.

This is a novel about a hasty marriage in which everything that could go wrong, did go wrong, and the path back to happiness.

The hero, Gabriel, is a man controlled by his domineering grandfather who is a control freak on steroids. He’s the one who tells Gabriel who he is going to marry. He’s the one who controlled who the hero could socialize with and who he should have no contact with – it’s pretty much an entire family branch. I did not like the merchant prince. He was mean to the hero, and the old guy’s sister wasn’t a peach either. It’s not a wonder the hero took some wrong turns and messed up his life.

When I met Dorinda, the heroine, she was a 16-year-old orphan stuck in a home for girls to teach them proper deportment. Dorinda was way too young to marry, and without a loving home life, was sorely unprepared to be thrust into a life dictated by the machinations of her guardian who just happens to be Gabriel’s grandfather, the meanie. Talk about a recipe for disaster.

One thing is for sure, the old guy’s plans didn’t go the way he wanted. Here’s the one thing that both Gabriel and Dorinda did during the course of the novel – they grew up.

The story goes through their growing pains using the people they meet along the way, their friends and other family members previously thought lost to them both. Each secondary character helps in one fashion or another to get both the hero and heroine where they need to be in order to become the people they were always meant to be. It’s not easy and it took some time. It’s a long book. If readers like these kinds of epic journeys of personal discovery and positive success against characters’ original negative paths, coming into their own and becoming stronger and more certain of who they are in life, then this novel should strongly appeal.

It does eventually happen. The hero and heroine come together as full-fledged adults and are on a more even playing field. After all that growth and change, will the people they’ve become be as appealing in a marriage as when they first met? That’s the big question that gets resolved in the end.

I did experience a few hiccups as I read. Gabriel has a good friend, Avery. Avery’s method of speech hurt my brain. I couldn’t get the hang of how the dialogue might have sounded based on the spelling. After a while, I gave up. There were a few times where the wrong person’s name was used in a scene, but it didn’t throw me out of the story, not like Avery’s dialogue. I also found that the ending was too abrupt. After investing so much time in watching both Gabriel and Dorinda each become better people than when the book first started, I expected at least an epilogue to give a more well-rounded experience of closure. Especially with the bombshell Dorinda revealed to Gabriel at the end. But no, there was nothing to firm up that last sentence of Gabriel’s internal dialogue. I needed there to be an epilogue just to balance out what had come before. I’m let down by the lack.

On the whole though, The Viscount and The Orphan was a convincing historical romance with quite a bit to recommend it. I understood the references to Cromwell and his legacy and effect on England and religion during that period. I experienced echoes of that time through Dorinda’s actions even though Cromwell was long gone at the time this story takes place. Dorinda is a pious little thing in the beginning, full of dreams, romance and fanciful notions. Her faith gives her strength and that’s the one thing I did admire about the heroine – when everyone else around her gave it up because it was ‘inconvenient’, she didn’t. It was a part of her she refused to give up on even when someone complained about it. There were hints early on that the heroine had some spine in her. The story proved it to be a correct assessment.

I was happy that Dorinda and Gabriel got their happily ever after, after all, and I’m glad Avery’s character turned out to be a solid asset for the hero. He really was a nice guy and I’m glad for his role in it. Everyone should have a friend who sticks by them in the worst of times, and in the best of times.

This was a solid historical romance and I enjoyed reading it.

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