Alverstone by Beatrice Knight is a carefully plotted Regency saga by an author who is new to me. I ran into the author on Twitter one day during a discussion about writing animals into fiction and was fascinated when she mentioned that some French officers took War Poodles on campaign with them. Honestly. War Poodles are a thing. How fabulous.
Anyway, back to the novel. When I began reading Alverstone, I was expecting a traditional Regency romance in the style of Georgette Heyer and her more modern counterparts. It quickly became obvious this was so much more than that. Beatrice Knight has created an entertaining family saga set during the Regency period. In fact there’s so much to this book it’s hard to know where to start.
Let’s begin with the characters. Knight introduces a big cast of characters from both ends of the social scale and handles them with professional ease. Her hero and heroine, Jasper and Charlotte are well-written and believable with all the necessary virtues but also plenty of faults. It’s something of a problem to me when a character is too perfect and there were moments where I wanted to yell at both of these two. At the same time they are both very likeable. I enjoyed their interactions with the rest of the characters as well as the relationship between them.
Beatrice Knight’s research is impressive. I know a lot about the Regency period because of my own books, both on and off the battlefield. Alverstone is set primarily in the social milieu of the era but moves into the military and political from time to time and the author gives the impression of being very much at home there too. I can be picky about detail in books of this kind but I found it hard to find fault. There were a couple of minor things that made me flinch, but interestingly when I looked them up I found the author was right. A reticule (small evening type bag) was indeed, at the time, also called a ridicule. I still prefer the former because a lot of people are going to think that’s a typo, but it isn’t.
Beatrice Knight’s writing flows very well and I enjoyed her style. She keeps a good sense of period but doesn’t drown the reader in Regency slang or try to base her writing on other authors; her voice is distinctly her own. The book was well paced, which is quite an achievement given that it’s fairly long and she held my interest to the end.
The book is very funny in places. There are several eccentric characters but they’re kindly drawn. I enjoyed Sylvie’s burgeoning friendship with Violet. I rather imagine we’ll be seeing more of these two in future books and I can’t wait. I was also delighted to meet Brodie the War Poodle who seemed to have made the transition from battle dog to pampered pet without a hitch.
So are there any criticisms of this book? To be honest, from my perspective no. I read it over a couple of days and I’m looking forward to the sequels. I do think it’s difficult to place this book into a particular genre. The cover screams Regency and it’s definitely rooted firmly and accurately in that period but it’s not a Regency romance as such. I hope that doesn’t put readers off. It reminds me more of the family sagas which were popular when I was young, written by people like Brenda Jagger and perhaps it’s time for these to make a comeback.
Family is a major theme in Alverstone. This is not just a romance about two people. The ties that bind the two households run throughout the book and I suspect will run on into the future. I look forward to seeing more of Jasper and Charlotte as well as their siblings and various dependents. I hope readers do give this book a chance because it’s well-researched, well-written and a lot of fun.