The Hampshire Hoyden - Michelle Martin Delightful traditional Regency set in London amongst its glittering ton.

The plot loosely reminds me of (dare I say it?) Pride and Prejudice. *gasp* I know those are strong words...but hear me out! Miss Glyn is best friends with and companion to the acknowledged beauty of the season, Miss Georgina Fairfax. Lord Blake's close friend, Sir William Atherton, begs an introduction to Miss Fairfax. The two are introduced, and, c'est voila!, they are enamored of each other, pretty much at first sight.

Of course, Lord Blake is thrown into Miss Glyn's path throughout this courtship. What is shocking, however, is Miss Glyn seems to want nothing to do with him! Miss Glyn, it turns out, has observed Lord Blake's friendship with a neighbor of his, Lady Priscilla Inglewood (or, as Miss Glyn calls her, Lady Perfection Incarnate). Lady Priscilla and Miss Glyn have been at daggers drawn since Miss Glyn's debut season, when her hoydenish antics and behavior were the antithesis of Lady Priscilla's icy perfection. Miss Glyn is thus prejudiced against Lord Blake the moment this relationship becomes known to her, and Lady Priscilla, who is widely (and justly) believed to have set her cap for Lord Blake, is wildly jealous of Miss Glyn's proximity to Lord Blake, unbeknownst to poor Miss Glyn.

The P&P comparison continues when a couple of villains show up shortly after Sir William and Miss Fairfax are betrothed. Through an elaborate and cruel scheme, they dupe Sir William into believing terrible things about his new fiancee. There is drama, there is a confrontation, and Miss Glyn and Lord Blake work together to solve the mystery of this evil plot.

There is a lot of clever and quick dialogue exchanged between the two throughout the novel, especially when they are fighting their admiration for each other in the beginning. Eventually, they cry pax and become friends, bonding over their Shakespeare quotation duels and love of prime horse flesh. And after that...the friendship turns into something more. Lord Blake is pretty beta as a hero, but he seemed charming enough and appreciative of a quick-witted young woman, whom he likes (in the words of Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones's Diary) "just the way she is."

As expected with a traditional Regency, the romance here is subtle. In fact, sometimes it was too subtle for my tastes. There were a lot of speaking glances, heavy pauses, holding her hand too long, etc. The end felt a little uneven for me. It was lovely to see Lord Blake all worked up - so worked up that he feels compelled to carry Miss Glyn off to be married in the middle of the night! However, this is only after he was gone for eight days...with no explanation at the outset for his absence.

Even so, I really enjoyed this book and the lively character of Miss Glyn. The author makes some glaring mistakes in address (e.g., Lady Priscilla, the daughter of an earl, is referred to as "Lady Inglewood" throughout). However, if you can overlook that and don't mind a non-steamy read, the clever writing and humorous antics are worth it.