The Reluctant Baronet

Elizabeth W. Watkins

Sir Russell Parkinson, First Baronet of Oakhurst Park, and best known for the invention of bootblack is an unlikely Baronet, as he is the son of a Scotsman and a chemist. His childhood friend, Garrett Browning, the Fifth Earl of Kersey, prods him to accept the title to change the conditions of society. Selina Clifton never imagined anyone could see past her scars from smallpox, let alone find her strength admirable. Selina courts Matthew Hallett to secure her future and that of the estate, Brookside Manor, for the tenant’s sake. The Hallett brothers are at the mercy of their uncle till they come of age, but he is trying to kill them off and forces the unwanted engagement. Will Russell be able to solve the puzzle of the will and be with his true love?

Selina is a force to be reckoned with and her strong character shines throughout the pages, especially when breaking up a duel between Hallett and Russell over her character. It is lovely to see her strength grow to see past her own scars and to view herself as the strong survivor Russell sees in her. Russell’s inept behavior and struggle with the formalities of society is relatable since he is a working man and not a born noble. The character of Matthew Hallett was interesting to peel back the layers and learn his story since he seems on the surface to be just a dandy. Many historical references addressed the complexity of the period, and sorting out three romantic entanglements could be difficult at times. Such truth to the times of a budding romance facing a devastating turn due to the pressures of society instead of being able to marry solely for love.

Amy Rubottom