The Bolingbroke Chit

Lynn Messina
The Bolingbroke Chit
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Potatoworks Press
Release Date
May 2015
Historical Romance

Earning the nickname Lady Agony was no minor achievement for Lady Agatha Bolingbroke. It required a great deal of effort to make herself so disagreeable, but she did it for a good cause: The fewer invitations she receives, the more time she has to paint. Her mother, refusing to accept an unpopular daughter—or, worse, a talented one—insists on dragging her to every event of the season. To thwart her parents and to vent her frustration, Agatha creates a wicked alter ego: a caricaturist whose mocking illustrations take ruthless aim at the ridiculousness of the ton. Her most recent target is Viscount Addleson, whom she dubs Viscount Addlewit for his handsome but empty head.

Then one of Agatha's drawings goes too far and a villain threatens to reveal her true identity if she doesn't comply with his demands. Now she has an impossible choice—ruin herself or an innocent young lady—and to her utter amazement the only person who can help her is Lord Addlewit, whose handsome head, upon closer inspection, isn't empty at all and whose eyes are full of mischief.

Suddenly, she finds it very difficult to be disagreeable to him.

Book Review by Rebecca (author,reviewer)
Jun 15, 2015   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
125 people found the following review helpful
THE BOLINGBROKE CHIT by Lynn Messina is an entertaining and lively regency romance with an atypical heroine, the "chit" of the title.

Lady Agatha Bolingbroke is not your usual beautiful or charming heroine with her "severe black eyes" and "coarse dark hair". She has earned the title Lady Agony because of her vituperative nature and incisive ability to kill a conversation. We learn that this is a pseudonym she has cultivated as she wants to be left in peace to pursue her painting. She also discourages suitors because she believes that having a husband will automatically mean that all her needs will become secondary to his.

Despite Agatha's efforts, her mother is still determined to help her daughter to bag a husband and the discord between the two was amusing. For example, Lady Bolingbroke is described as being made of "sterner stuff than most and her campaign to rid her daughter of all signs of intelligence continued unabated." I would perhaps have liked Agatha's mother to have played a larger part in the book as I think more humour and tension could have been produced from this relationship.

Agatha is not immediately appealing as a character as she seems genuinely quite prickly and condemning of others and is even initially critical of Emma and Lavinia (whom readers of this author will know of from her previous novels). We are soon introduced to the hero of the story--Viscount Addleson, who is also hiding his true self from society. He is extremely clever but this has led to a certain alienation from his less astute father and has also caused him to adopt the facade of a fool obsessed with fashion, mostly just to distract himself from his boredom.

Agatha has a secret life as a caricature artist which ties in well with the general theme of the story as both the main characters like to present caricatures of themselves to the world. He is the only one who seems to see through her and this makes him both attractive and alarming to her. Viscount Addleson's subtle but provoking mockery jolts Agatha out of her customary cold demeanour and also helps to warm the reader towards her. She also manages to build a rare friendship with Emma Harlow (now the Duchess of Trent) and learns that she should not be so quick to judge other people.

Agatha's secret work as a caricature artist becomes threatened when Townshend, the villain of the story, tries to blackmail her into using her drawing to vilify Lavinia Harlow. She improves and grows as a character when she realises that she should not have allowed this to happen. In her search to discover the real story behind Townshend's hatred, she adopts a disguise that provides some effective moments of hilarity. Agatha crosses paths again with the intriguing Addleson and their attraction becomes stronger as they investigate a villain whose activities are revealed to be more and more nefarious.

Agatha and Addleson are both portrayed as very bright, talented people constrained by the strictures of society at the time and the author conveys this very well. It is also enjoyable to see them trying to get one up on each other.

I wasn't sure about the title for this novel as "chit" doesn't really do the heroine justice. Bolingbroke is a bit of a mouthful and does not give any indication as to what the book is really about. I think the author is trying too hard to keep in line with the titles of her previous novels. I also would have preferred more love scenes and for there to have been some more side characters and locations (other than the ones we already know).

I may have given this book 5 stars if I was comparing it to novels by other authors I have reviewed before. However, if I am judging it against the previous novels of this particular author, it is not my favourite and so I feel that I should not award it the full 5 stars. Lynn Messina is a talented writer and I especially like the witty dialogue between her characters but perhaps her previous books should not have been quite so good!

THE BOLINGBROKE CHIT by Lynn Messina is an excellent Regency romance and is a book I found hard to put down. I did not smile quite as much reading this as I did with her other novel, The Harlow Hoyden. However, I love the way this author comes up with unusual characters and I very much enjoyed reading this book. I will certainly carry on reading more novels by this author as I can rely on them to be entertaining, well researched and well written.
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