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Sunday, January 10, 2016

R&R Review Sunday: The Vagabond Vicar by Charlotte Brentwood

Stand-Alone to date

Goodreads Blurb:
"William Brook is an idealistic young cleric, desperate to escape dreary England for a mission adventure in exotic lands. It's his worst nightmare come true when he is posted to a parish in a small backwater village, populated with small-minded people and husband-hunting mamas. He’s determined not to form any ties and to escape the country as an independent single man. 

A free spirit, Cecilia Grant is perfectly content to remain in her family home in Amberley village - when she's not wandering the countryside at all hours painting. Marriage options are few, but that won't stop her mother from engineering a match with one of the ruling family's sons. Cecilia attempts to win the man, but what is it about the new vicar and his brooding ways that is so appealing? Could he be the only one who has ever really understood her, and can she discover what he is running away from? 

As William struggles not to fall in love with the lady's intoxicating beauty and mysterious eccentricity, he finds himself drawn into the lives of the villagers, despite their best efforts to alienate the newcomer. When he makes it clear he's not sticking around, Cecilia strives to restrain her blossoming feelings for him. Just when it seems love may triumph, dark secrets are revealed in Amberley and a scandal from William’s past may see the end of not only his career, but his chance at finding an everlasting love. 

The Vagabond Vicar is an unashamedly romantic historical novel you'll fall in love with. If you love Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, can't get enough of Downton Abbey or Cranford, or just prefer old-fashioned boy-meets-girl stories, try reading Charlotte Brentwood. 

Sensuality level: sweet (only kissing) 
Please note, although there is some mention of religious subject matter due to the hero's occupation, this is not an "inspirational" novel."

Thank you to the author, Charlotte Brentwood, for gifting me a copy of The Vagabond Vicar in exchange for an honest review!

Personally, I'm not an expert at all on this time period but from what I do know, I loved it!  I really loved reading about a different time period and what life was like back then.  This book mostly focuses on small-town life and what it was like as a young girl being cornered into marrying for status.  While we're on the topic, I want to mention that, while this book is written in a completely different time period, you don't really have to know anything about said time period because everything is so clearly explained.  And even if it isn't, you can easily infer.

There are two main issues addressed in this book, both uniting together into one large plot point: the romance.  Let me explain what I mean.  Our female MC is Cecelia and because she is from a small town, she has limited options when it comes to marrying higher on the status ladder.  Her mother and father are pushing her to marry for position, not for love which is her main dilemma.  She is a very free spirit and being tamped down by a possessive man sounds excruciating to her.  Which is when William comes in and saves the day!  William's issue is his wander-lust prone soul.  He feels as if his life is calling him to preach his religion in far off countries and convert the native populations.  However, he is stuck in the small town of Amberly.  His problems are much more deeply rooted than that but I don't want to spoil anything so I'll stop there.  Those two problems are brought together in a constructive (and seriously romantic!) way.  I loved how the romance was used as a constructive device.  The romance also developed very naturally and felt very realistic.

Now, a little more about the characters.  In general, throughout the entire book, I felt like I was right with the characters.  There are two different POV's (for our two MC's) that flowed very nicely together and created a good contrasting dynamic in the story.  Ms. Brentwood did an excellent job in building 3D characters that felt very real to me.  I do wish we could have learned more about Thomas as he seemed so important to William and we don't really get to know him that well before he disappears.

The last thing I want to talk about are the themes.  There were several related themes in this book that fit so well with the aim and direction the book took.  Some of the themes included not fitting in, wanting to belong, and being true to yourself.  As you can tell, it goes in that order throughout the book and each gradually fades into the next.

The Final Verdict:
Such a lovely, romantic story complete with complex characters and storylines.  The romance never felt forced or rushed, with everything flowing nicely from one event to the next.
4.5 stars

"There would be physical hardships, to be sure, but the knowledge that he would be makin ga real difference would see him through."

"He wanted to see what had made her laugh."

"'It would behoove you to remember, gentlemen, that I am not Mr Johnson.'"

"'I shall be back, Emma,' he said, 'mark my words.  We will be bumping into each other in the hallway again before you know it.'
Her cries gave way to laughter, and she swiped her tears away as she stepped back.  'I'll hold you to that, sir.'"

"While the pull to adventure abroad tempted him, perhaps it was all a horrible gamble that would pale in comparison to what he had here."

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