Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Returning home after three years abroad on an exhaustive research expedition, Lord Maximilian wants nothing more than to see his twin sister Mavin and meet her fiance to whom she got engaged while he was away. But as usual with his imperious sister things have already gone awry on his first day home. Shortly after Max’s return, a man barges into Max’s study demanding to see his sister. The problem? It’s Master Kelcey Moore, Mavin’s fiancé wanting to know where Mavin has gone and why. Max doesn’t know what’s going on.
It doesn’t take much investigation on Max’s part to find out that his bold as brass sister has run away with someone else’s fiance, leaving her own (and another’s) far behind without warning to handle the social and personal embarrassment by themselves. Floored by his sister’s actions, Max gets to know Kelcey, the man left behind. He’s hurt, embittered by the fact that he thought Mavin was his friend and impoverished by his circumstances, something the marriage would have alleviated. It isn’t soon before Max is finding himself concerned by Kelcey and his future.
Max thinks he has found the answer to all Kelcey’s problems in his marriage contract to Mavin. A suitable replacement must be found if the marriage doesn’t take place. So Max reasons, all he must do is find a replacement for Mavin. Another rich, suitable person for Kelcey to marry. As more problems pop up to confront Max and Kelcey, the biggest of all just might be the fact that Max is wishing the suitable replacement to be himself.
In the world of Megan Derr, the word “typical” and “normally” are banished to the realm of others. If Megan Derr is writing an story that might seem historical on the surface, you can be sure that dragons, or trolls, or something magical or mysterious is lurking just around the corner, alongside carriages and horses and things. In the world of Megan Derr, the young heir to the title and lands is not the twin brother but his twin sister, Mavin, a force of nature of her own. Mavin, the cigar smoking,gun wielding, imperious and yes, impulsive wild child and head royal here. Her twin brother, Max, also has his moments of wildness and peculiarities but they are nothing when stacked up against those of his sister. I loved that its Mavin who fills the role of the “typical” uncontrollable heir instead of her brother. And its her exploits that set off the explosive and crazy events to come. But back to Max and Kelcey.
Max is your “preoccupied disheveled scientist” in a historical context. But what is Max researching? Troll magic, an unpopular if not totally rejected subject for research and scientific study. Not typically an historic element. Apparently, there was a Troll War and Max is determined to research what he thinks is the use of magic during that war. Max is most at home in his study or at the various bookstores where he is known as a generous patron. But when he gets the idea to find a replacement for his sister for Kelcey to marry, Max must once more take up the trappings of society and his royal status to achieve his ends. This is just the sort of character Derr does so well. Irritable yet soft hearted, highly intelligent and isolated, and truly in need of love. He finds his match in Kelcey, an enigmatic man who pushes all Max’s buttons. The courtship between them starts off slow and then takes off at a gallop. No, really a gallop at they flee town together.
There are quite a few obstacles to happiness and HEA thrown in their way. That they are raised by the actions of Mavin in the first place, ones she shows little accountability for later on, might take away some of your enjoyment of her character and this story. I thought her thoughtlessness of others around her and her self centered outlook was perfectly in keeping with her character. Did I want to see her throttled? Of course but I found her a viable and interesting persona. You need a character like her to add a prickly tartness here and she does that well. And how Max and Kelcey react and adjust to the following chaos is lovely to behold.
The resolution is a little drawn out in a manner that might put off some readers. Mavin’s actions has some real consequences, and as in real life, the person responsible is not always the person who pays the price. I thought it realistic but for some this might be a tad unpalatable. I do wish a troll or two had shown up or even a magical wand. That would have been stupendous (although not necessary for the plot). I would love to have known more about the Troll Wars and past history that Max was researching, that got my interest going too. But this story? I still enjoyed the heck out of it. Like them or not, I think you will find yourself empathizing with their circumstances, relationships and events to follow. I loved the plot and the twists Megan Derr wove into a typical Regency novel. Consider A Suitable Replacement totally recommended. Now off to find the other stories in this series.
Cover artist: Aisha Akeju. Terrific cover, totally works here.
ebook, 218 pages
Published August 6th 2014 by Less Than Three Press LLC (first published August 4th 2014)
original titleA Suitable Replacement
ISBN 1620044013 (ISBN13: 9781620044018)