On the cover of this novel, ‘Kirkus’ advises that “M.C. Beaton is the best of the Regency writers,” but obviously the reviewer hadn’t read Georgette Heyer, (I’m assuming the reviewer meant Modern Regency writers). Still, Emily Goes to Exeter by M.C. Beaton was sort of fun.
The story begins with Miss Hannah Pym, a housekeeper whose elderly employer has just died. Miss Pym was lucky enough to be left 5000 pounds in her employer’s will, which makes her an independent woman with the means to fulfil her heart’s desire – to travel on Flying Machines stagecoaches all over England.
Cashed up, footloose and fancy free, Miss Pym purchases a ticket on the Exeter Fly and promptly has her first adventure. An accident and a snowstorm causes Miss Pym and her fellow travellers to be held up at a country inn. The travellers include a rich widow and her bullying, would-be-suitor, a runaway bride and a tall, dark handsome Lord, a lawyer who desperately needs a bath and a host of other characters who are only included to make up the numbers. While stranded at the inn, Miss Pym marshals the other characters to cook, clean and play games in order to pass the time and ensure their enforced stay run smoothly. Not everyone wants to pitch in, but each character’s willingness to assist is a good measure of their worth.
During the course of the story Miss Pym gains the title, ‘The Travelling Matchmaker,’ and I understand there are a number of Miss Pym books following this first romantic adventure.
I was annoyed by the main romance in this story, because although the hero was ideal, (good looks, charm, wealth and street smarts), he fell in love with a young chit for her pretty face alone. Typical. I know he isn’t the only hero to make this mistake in a novel, but I must be getting old when I want more substance from my heroines than violet eyes and a dainty figure, particularly when their moral characteristics include vanity and selfishness.
I hope Miss Pym has a romance of her own with a worthy hero someday, (and there were hints and possibilities that this might happen), but if she were to marry it would probably end the series, so I suppose Miss Pym will remain a spinster and continue travelling.
I would read another book by M.C. Beaton as the book had a happy, frivolous style and a lovely heroine in Miss Pym, perfect for when you want a light read without having to think at all.