Book & Author Details:
by Victoria Clarke
Publication date: February 27th 2023
Genres: Adult, Historical, Historical Romance, Romance
The Honorable Miss Lucilla Iverson is an exceptionally unconventional young heiress trying her best to be unexceptionally conventional despite her love of horses and racing curricles. When she attracts the attention of a hardened older bachelor, a duke, no less, it sets the ton afire with anticipation.
Many young bucks seek her approval, including a notorious (and now penniless) gamester who intends to marry Miss Iverson and her money whether or not she agrees. On an inside track for Lucilla’s attention is Oliver, Lord Hartwell, despite a near miss at running her over while driving his phaeton in the company of his cousin, the handsome and mysterious duke. Which of the three will win her heart and hand, to live happily ever after? That is the question!
Exceptionally Unconventional is Victoria Clarke’s first book. I felt this was a promising effort for a first book. Miss Lucilla Iverson is in her first season and must navigate the treacherous waters that include an older duke, his cousin, and a notorious gamester. Beyond that, Lucilla must decide who has her best interests at heart when making friends with the other debutantes. Add Lucilla’s unconventional love of horses and curricles, and you get an interesting young lady.
This book has an intriguing, exciting plot. The story unfolds from many different points of view. The characters are vivid, and the storyline moves well, and even though were a lot of moving parts, it was not convoluted. I would have liked a lot more romance between the main characters. Lucilla and her choice of groom needed more time on the page together, courting and getting to know one another. I also would have liked a few more demonstrations of affection.
That being said, I enjoyed the writing style. The storyline caught my eye. This was a medium-paced plot, but there was always something intriguing happening. The bones of this book are lovely; I feel with a sprinkling of more sweetly romantic moments that this author could really shine.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book through Netgalley and the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
“Miss Iverson has been quite amicable to every young man that we have presented to her all evening. Is something amiss, Lady Edevane?”
“Sharp as ever, Clementina. The boy has been toadying her for weeks and does not seem to take a hint.”
“I see!” Mrs. Drummond-Burrell replied, her eyes narrowed and her lips pursed. She did not appreciate being used as means to force a young lady’s hand and made mental note to mention this episode to her fellow patronesses at their next meeting.
In the ballroom, Miss Iverson allowed herself to be led to the floor and begrudgingly took her place. As the music began, Mr. Moore’s arm came about her waist. Her eyes glanced up at his and she fixed a withering glare upon him. He was undaunted, and indeed barely managed to conceal a smirk.
“Why do you look at me so, Lucilla?” he asked mockingly.
“I do not recall giving you leave to use my name, Mr. Moore.”
“Perhaps you did not, but we are such old friends, what is the harm in it?”
“It may not be harmful, but as it is not pleasing to my ear, I will request you not use it, if you please,” she replied witheringly as they whirled about the room.
“Whatever have I done to make you so upset, Miss Iverson?”
“Other than your underhanded effort to force me to accept a waltz with you, Mr. Moore?”
“I should think the effort was rather successful,” was his cheerful reply.
Miss Iverson’s jaw clenched. People were watching, she knew, so for quite some time she performed her steps in silence while he spoke on mundane topics and considered himself to have won the round. No one could overhear them, but anyone could surely guess she was angry at her dancing partner, and so she forced herself to fix a smile on her face as she looked up at him again.
“It is clear to me that in spite of my mother’s efforts to convince me otherwise, you are quite aware that I do not seek to encourage your familiarity.” Her words were deliberately blunt in an attempt to knock him off his perch, and it appeared to succeed, for his brow darkened momentarily. But as suddenly as it appeared, the frown vanished and he plastered a false smile on his face.
“You wound me, Miss Iverson! What have I done to draw such ire? I have surely not offended you.”
“You are well aware that your attentions offend me.”
“I am at a loss to understand why, for I am your humble servant.”
This drew her eyes up in a flash, and she said scornfully, “Indeed!”
“Have I not loved you since childhood?”
“I vividly recall your penchant for tossing spiders at me.”
“Only in my childish efforts to gain your notice, I assure you.”
“Then I suppose you were also in love with my brothers?” she replied with sarcasm ebbing in her voice.
As he paused to consider the right thing to say in reply, she suddenly pulled away from him and he realized the music had ended. She bobbed a quick and shallow curtsy before spinning on her heel and marching away. He felt irritation wash over him at her defiance. Yes, a less troublesome wife would be best. But he might enjoy breaking Miss Iverson of her spirit.
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I am an Australian writer, traveller, and horse rider. I am a lover of all things England and history – with a healthy side of sci-fi and fantasy.
My debut novel ‘Exceptionally Unconventional’ was written during 2020-21 while my late mother was fighting her final battle with breast cancer. I wrote it in a largely light-hearted way in an effort to keep her spirits up during that time – several of the characters were parodied versions of her acquaintances, so I was very happy to have succeeded in that particular endeavour!
She never got to see it published, but just a few weeks after she passed away, I was offered a contract on it from one of the first publishers I submitted it to. You’ll notice the dedication I chose when it finally came time to write one.
I am currently working on my second manuscript.