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Regency Trilogy #1

Miss Ware's Refusal

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Lovely Miss Judith ware was proud. Too proud to feel sorry for herself when her family's loss of fortune forced her to earn a living. And too proud to accept the marraige proposal of the handsome, wealthy Simon Ballance Duke of Sutton, who offered her everything but love.

The Duke was just as proud. Too proud to expose his grievous war wound to society's scorn. And too proud to open his heart to any woman's painful pity.

With pride so powerful, could passion and love prove stronger?

224 pages, Paperback

First published April 3, 1990

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Marjorie Farrell

13 books5 followers

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5 stars
34 (19%)
4 stars
67 (39%)
3 stars
46 (26%)
2 stars
17 (9%)
1 star
7 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews
Profile Image for Preeti ♥︎ Her Bookshelves.
1,269 reviews20 followers
May 12, 2022
This book has an interesting premise but read it only if you are a fan of dawdling slow-burns/no-burns.

Profile Image for Kathleen.
1,322 reviews29 followers
June 21, 2014
A duke, injured in the Napoleonic War, must come to terms with total blindness. He hires a reader -- a genteel Vicar's daughter. Eventually, they fall in love while discussing Robert Blake, Jane Austin (a likely choice?) and the Corn Laws (presumably the only act of British Legislature in the Regency years).

Mediocre writing at best. The most vivid scene depicts the wounded duke urinating in squalor. Too many sentences begin with "he" or "she" did this or that. Not enough showing, too much telling. I know, we hear that all the time, but it's a problem here. I couldn't "feel" the characters. Couldn't feel the angst, with some exceptions.

That's when I felt the angst. Meh.

I did like Simon's secretary and valet, Francis and Martin. Nicely developed secondary characters.

For other historical romances with blind heroes, see my review of The Arrangement, where I list about a dozen books. I also found several lists of romances with blind heroes at http://www.heroesandheartbreakers.com...
And from Listmania at Amazon, I came upon a whole slew of contemporary and historical heroes, blind: http://www.amazon.com/blind-romantic-...
Profile Image for Gerrie.
748 reviews
March 16, 2016
This book was absolutely wonderful. It is absolutely one of the best depictions I've ever read of a man coming to terms with the limitations of his blindness, and realistically learning how to live a full and productive life within those limitations. And of the woman who helps him to do so.

Simon has been blinded at Waterloo. Because the damage has been to his optic nerve and not his eyes, he keeps thinking his sight will return although his doctors have given him little hope of that happening. While Simon's situation is certainly one to evoke great compassion, he is also a wealthy and powerful duke so has the resources at his disposal to learn to adapt to his new circumstances. He is in understandable denial about the permanence of his blindness, but also deeply depressed. He has completely retreated, and refuses to see his friends. However, he does decide to have someone come in to read to him while he waits for his sight to return.

Judith is an outspoken bluestocking, the daughter of a vicar who had to work as a governess for several years before her brother could take care of her. However, she still wants to earn some money to help her brother out. Judith did go to a ladies' academy, where her best friend was Barbara, daughter of an earl. And Barbara's brother Robin is Simon's best friend. Robin has repeatedly tried to see Simon, and has been repeatedly turned away. Barbara and Robin think that Judith will be the perfect person to read to Simon. As a governess one of her duties was to read to an elderly blind relative of one of the families she worked for.

This story is so wonderful in so many ways. The relationship between Simon and Judith is developed so beautifully. She is his intellectual equal, and she keeps challenging him. But this is no easy fix of a woman's love healing a man. It is far deeper and richer than that. Simon does have to come to terms with his disability, and feel that he is a still a vital, vibrant man. And he must do that on his own. Judith knows this, and although she loves Simon, she gives him the space and freedom to do so despite the cost to herself.

The book also beautifully portrays the love that friends have for each other. The great friendship between Robin and Simon, and between Barbara and Judith are almost love stories in themselves, and greatly enrich the book.

Marjorie Farrell is a terrific writer. Her book Red, Red Rose is on my list of favorites. I just wish she had the popularity of the other great writers of regency romance such as Carla Kelly and Mary Balogh, because she can proudly take her place beside them.
Profile Image for Georgie-who-is-Sarah-Drew.
1,069 reviews124 followers
March 27, 2016
I feel like the kid who kicks a puppy, giving this a 2-star review. Because this is a well-intentioned story, with tropes I usually pat on the head: out-spoken heroine, suffering hero, slow-burn love. There were aspects I appreciated: the fact that the heroine and her brother are somewhere on the sliding scale "down" to the middle-classes so she is educated, but money is still an issue for her household. It's a more socially ambiguous position than being a cit's daughter. I also liked the sense of a household rallying round the damaged hero - it's not just the Duke who is affected, but all his servants by the change in his lifestyle.

But the story has, I think, three strikes against it that I can't get past. First of all, the writing is on the stilted side, with exposition rather clumsily inserted in dialogue:
"I want to contribute something to the household. I know that you will be a successful barrister someday, and we will be living on some fashionable street in Mayfair, but for now your salary covers only necessities. I don’t want to be a burden."
Secondly, the story is cluttered with secondary characters who could be interesting, who could lead somewhere, but don't. The heroine's house-keeper, the hero's secretary, the light-hearted viscount, the heroine's best friend: all well-enough drawn - but to no structural end. Many of the secondary characters are given scenes from their POV, which add almost nothing to what I'd assumed was the main story. Collectively, these contribute to the third weakness: the H & H spend comparatively little time together. From around the half-way point, there is almost no interaction, so the final resolution wasn't convincing.

So, while this isn't a bad book, it didn't hold my interest, and I shan't go back to it.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
363 reviews46 followers
January 10, 2014
An interesting portrayal of how hero (Duke of Sutton) evolves as he learns to cope with permanent blindness after being wounded in the Peninsular War. His reaction to his condition and limitations is realistic as he experiences denial, anger, depression, and a degree of acceptance. The heroine, an impoverished vicar's daughter also undergoes an evolution as she ponders her limited social station, feminist ideals, compassion and frustration. Both are intelligent and analytical people, who embrace a true emotional love, despite their insecurities.
Profile Image for HR-ML.
1,063 reviews39 followers
July 23, 2022
Regency paperback edition. 3 stars. Kisses only?
I skipped the last couple chapters.

Simon, an army captain and Duke, returned from
Waterloo, sightless. His bestie Robin, tried to lift
his spirits. (Robin, an army major, had his eye on
Lady Diana). Simon's secretary noted normally even-
tempered Simon now showed anger and "cutting
sarcasm." Judith, a gent's daughter, lived in reduced
circumstances with her brother, who started a new
career. Simon hired Judith to read him novels, etc.
to cut down on boredom.

Simon+ Judith did not do it for me. Judith was a tad
whiney & I thought he'd be a better match for Diana
who had a flirty facade, but had goodness underneath.

Some of the dialogue was clever, but the story felt lacking.
Simon deserved a better mate.
Profile Image for Moria.
35 reviews
December 26, 2012
A very slow start but I'm glad I stuck with it past the slow beginning. The book & author is heavily influenced by Jane Austen. While I give the author credit for attempting to write in the same extremely formal & antique style as Austen, the writing sometimes ends up very convoluted & stilted. I knew I was in trouble when I literally had to read the first few pages three times before I finally figured out the setting and characters. Worst was when the story's point of view suddenly changed from paragraph to paragraph a bit further in. I had no idea who was speaking or who was being referred to until I realized what happened.

The author also relies VERY heavily on telling, not showing. There's so much exposition, it is difficult to warm up to the characters or story. At page 20 I seriously considered quitting the book, as nothing had actually happened and the writing was so tedious. But I'm glad I kept at it in the end.
Unfortunately, although, the book short, only about 220 pages, but the two leads don't even meet up until almost a third of the way in. Up to that point almost nothing actually happens. Instead the story is endless exposition & backstory. It does pick up & flow much better when finally covering Simon's backstory. Actually his point of view in general is more interesting than Judith's.

From there the story is much more engaging, the author seems more interested, and her awkward changes in point of view settle into mostly a more omnipotent narration that is less confusing. I like how the author described Simon's adjustment after his injury going from denial to depression & anger then to acceptance. He fittingly also has flashes of PTSD. Once he does accept his blindness, he does seem to become the most well-adjusted blind man ever almost overnight, but that is what it is. There is also the idea that, while Judith does give him a wake-up call, his adjustment is not magically dependent on her. He would have gotten there on his own anyway because of the person he is. That is much more real and satisfying than what you get in most other fairy-tale style romances.

I had no idea of the book's Jane Austen connections when i picked it up. She is mentioned several times as Judith & Simon read & discuss her works. Judith herself is plucked straight from an Austen story. She is a vicar's daughter, who dies before the book starts, leaving his family poor and with few prospects. Simon is rather Darcy-ish in that he hides his insecurities & fears at being newly blinded by being very cold & imperious. Obviously, Judith's refusal of his early proposal (where the title comes from) is directly taken from Pride & Prejudice. As in Emma, certain characters make attempts at matchmaking with both good & bad results. Similar to Marianne in Sense & Sensibility, Judith is very influenced by schoolgirl ideas of romantic, perfect love. All the Austen references and influences are fun and the author even gets better at writing in her style as the book goes on. Unfortunately it has about the same quick, over & out, ending as Pride & Prejudice.

I just wanted more of the characters actually together & interacting. The book sort of has the feel of starting as a short story or novelette. Then it got padded with all the exposition in order to meet the minimum length of a novel. It seems there's still a lot of room for character interaction & development. However, I especially like how many of the characters have an understanding that life can be very hard & unfair. Not everyone finds fulfilling work or gets a happy ending. There's also a consistent theme of the benefits of looking beyond the superficial in people, not just in the case of Simon, who literally cannot see a person's surface, but with many of the characters.

One thing I was worried about, reading some reviews, some said Simon would never have bothered with Judith if he could see. This seemed like it might fall into a sort of cliched fantasy where a very plain & average woman is able to catch a rich, gorgeous husband because he's disabled. Happily, I did not get this idea from my own reading. While Judith is described as not overtly beautiful, she is attractive & can be striking, such as when she is dressed up for a ball. She is quite able to catch other men, she just doesn't have much chance to meet them. The author also seems, at least to me, to point out that Judith & Simon would have ended up together even if he had not gone to war & been blinded. After all, they had already been part of the same social circle, met, & found they had similar personalities before his injury. Circumstances just kept them apart for a while. And as Judith made sure Simon had the time to learn, he finds he is still capable even after his injury of attracting many women, so there is no feeling that he's settling for a woman not his equal.

At the end, I liked the book but I felt unsatisfied because it obviously had the potential to be mind-blowingly good. Well, since it is so old, and came out a bit before Jane Austen knock-offs got so trendy, one can always hope it will be reworked and rereleased as amazing historical chick-lit.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
2,330 reviews27 followers
October 31, 2012
When Simon, the Duke of Sutton, is blinded on the battlefield, he sinks into a morass of depression and refuses the calls of even his dearest friends. He does advertise for a reader, though, and his friend Robin and his sister Barbara know the perfect person--in fact, she was about to answer the ad anyway. Judith Ware, an old school friend of Barbara's who met Simon once for the winter holidays and found him quite captivating, has not had the easiest of lives. Forced to earn her living as a governess, she is now in London with her brother, and hoping to help make ends meet by reading to Simon--so long as he doesn't figure out that she has already met him. Her reading is the catalyst to his recovery, but it's her refusal of his other offer that really turns things around.

This was recommended by a friend, but didn't really do much for me. First, my understanding of regency romances (which must be sadly out of date) is that they are fun, fluffy, and if you're really lucky, full of intelligent wit. When I hit the scene of the newly blinded Simon in the filthy barn that served as a hospital, trying to figure out where to "aim" so he doesn't soak his blanket (and not succeeding), that's where the author first lost me. If you want to write historical fiction, then just go for it. I think some romance writers feel apologetic for writing romance, and try to add in warts-and-all realism to try to validate the fluff. I say, own the fluff! Nothing wrong with good fluff, and it's surprisingly hard to do well, so be proud of it. And then, the rest of the book was a lot of telling rather than showing. Every tiny little emotion had to be painstakingly explained, sometimes several times, and then repeated in dialogue (seriously, how many men are this articulate about their feelings when talking to their best friends?).

I suppose for those who like a good hurt-comfort story, this is the kind of romance that would appeal, but it was too realistic and tell-not-show for me.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for P..
1,450 reviews7 followers
January 12, 2016
I found it an unusually sweet book and, while it's got flaws, worth a read.
Profile Image for Brontesruleromance.
526 reviews14 followers
April 24, 2022
CW: Heroine is shaken and then slapped in the face by the hero.

After suffering a head wound at Waterloo, Simon, Duke of Sutton, is blinded. I thought the author did an excellent job of realistically capturing Simon’s feelings of rage and despair as he gradually comes to accept that his sight will not return. He decides to hire a reader and that’s when former governess Judith Ware comes into contact with him. (They met years ago and he left an impression on her. She doesn’t let him know of their prior acquaintance.) As she reads to him they begin to discuss and debate what has been read and develop a friendship (and rekindling of affection on her part).

This was a slow burn that had sweetness but also some angst. There’s only one part I didn’t like at all - Simon’s protracted “flirtation” with Diana, who was the “Incomparable” of her season. Even though Simon characterizes it in his mind as a “flirtation,” everyone who sees them together thinks they’re seriously courting and will likely get married. It was incredibly insensitive of Simon (and out of character for him) because knew that his best friend Robin still had feelings for her.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
15 reviews1 follower
January 27, 2022
Lively and fun....a good old fashioned Regency. I loved the two main characters....Simon the duke and Judith the reader he hires due to his blindness after being in the Peninsular war. Witty, sparkling yet only too human. A very enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Fernanda Abreu.
12 reviews
December 14, 2022
The story had everything to be excellent, I just felt the overly politeness of everyone a bit forced? Liked all characters but did not feel the "like" I need for a 4 star review.
537 reviews8 followers
September 15, 2014
Not a light-hearted witty regency romance, it dealt with war wounds and the healing that is required afterwards. It was interesting to see the hero go through the 5 stages of grief for his lost of sight. Loved the very practical heroine, her wisdom in her refusal and how she laments that to set him free was the correct thing to do and if he did love her and wanted her back, she would never have a chance to meet him in the normal course of their lives....So she contrives a situation =) Was both irked that she had to do it and loved how if she didn't she would always regret not doing and saying the things that needed to be said =) Colbie Caillat's Realize song was playing in the back of my head throughout the book.
Profile Image for Amy.
236 reviews22 followers
September 19, 2013
This was a very thoughtful story about a duke blinded in the war and a vicar's daughter who reads to him as a favor to a friend. The duke does not settle easily into blindness and starts to come around by his own will more than any urging or good intentions of friends and servants. The vicar's daughter accepts her station and stays true to her feelings and does not take advantage of the duke's initial offer of a marriage of convenience.

I will be very interested to compare this to The Arrangement by Mary Balogh that is coming up in my queue as it features another blind hero that I hear learns to deal with his injury in a completely different way.
Profile Image for Wendy Sparrow.
Author 34 books270 followers
June 18, 2015
3.5 stars

(Hero slaps the heroine at one point after they both lose their temper. He’s horrified and apologizes. I think it was a step too far on the author’s part, but I’ve struggled with whether I’d deduct points because the story was good…and that probably was a realistic action. I just don’t know.) Hero is struggling to come to grips with his blindness. Heroine knew him slightly before he lost his sight and wants to be a part of his life again…without him knowing. She becomes his hired reader. Eventually, he asks for her hand in a marriage of convenience, but she refuses because she wants more than what he can offer…then.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for LemontreeLime.
3,175 reviews17 followers
January 12, 2013
This one was quite sweet, if not quite plausible. A quick satisfying read. Really nice touch that the blinded main character has to learn to deal with his problems rather than regain sight deus ex machinia. Also, excellently done minor characters, I totally could have seen more of Francis and Mr. Wiggins.
848 reviews4 followers
August 6, 2014
An impoverished vicar's daughter who must work for a living hanging out with the lords and ladies? I think not. This didn't bring a smile to my face like really good romance novels. Passable, but not great.
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