Jenny Holiday is a new-to-me historical romance author and one that I can see myself returning to. With The Likelihood of Lucy Holiday brings readers a romance that’s firmly set outside the aristocracy. Lucy Greenleaf and Trevor Bailey both grew up together in Seven Dials. When, at eleven, Lucy’s mother attempts to auction off her virginity, Trevor finds a way to get Lucy out. Growing up in a charity school, Lucy finds employment as a governess, only her adherent to the tenets of her heroine, Mary Wollstonecraft, gets her let go from her position. After returning to the streets for a week, Lucy soon has no choice but to turn to the friend who always protected her as a girl.
Trevor raised himself from the gutter by hard work and determination, which has paid off and he’s now opening a hotel with the backing of several aristocratic investors. When Lucy turns up at his door, he’s determined to get her back on her feet and into a position that she deserves; she can’t possibly be for him since he’s just not good enough. And therein lies my dissatisfaction with The Likelihood of Lucy: Trevor’s continued insistence that he’s not good enough for Lucy.
While both Lucy and Trevor have reasons that They Cannot Be Together. Lucy is committed to women’s rights and doesn’t see marriage as a way to keep fighting for them, and Trevor is certain that he’s still gutter trash (never mind that he’s loaded and that he can offer Lucy a much better life than that of a governess). While I can get behind the reasons why both Trevor and Lucy were hesitant about a relationship, I did find their continued insistence a tad repetitive. Trevor’s determination to define Lucy’s path particularly grated. Trevor was convinced that Lucy deserved better, but never consulted her on what she would prefer (at least until the end). And I have a hard time following Trevor’s reasoning as to why governessing was such a good path for Lucy – it’s basically a servant’s position and he thought that was better than any life that he could offer her. Hmm, just not buying that thought process.
Despite the inconsistencies in our hero’s reasoning, I liked the romance between Trevor and Lucy. It was founded on their childhood friendship but it became something much more. I also liked how Lucy slowly came around to the notion of a happy and equal relationship with a man. At first blush, Lucy came across as quite single minded about her mission and cause of women’s rights, which is of course admirable, but can also co-exist within a relationship. It was a nice progression and I appreciated that character growth.
The Likelihood of Lucy was a nice historical romance and I loved the fact that the main characters were not members of the aristocracy. All those ball gowns and riches are great, but sometimes its refreshing to have less illustrious people be the centre of a story.
*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
If you appreciated the fact that Lucy and Trevor were not from the upper classes, give Courtney Milan’s This Wicked Gift a try. This one’s a novella, so it’s short, but it’s a really lovely read about a young woman running a circulating library and a man that works as a clerk to the local marquess.
While Lucy doesn’t remain a governess in The Likelihood, I think readers will appreciate the very unusual governess in Jennifer Ashley’s Rules for a Proper Governess, namely the fact that Bertie is most definitely from the gutter.
Lastly, who doesn’t a love a hero that doesn’t think he’s good enough for his heroine? No one does it better than Corporal Thorne in Tessa Dare’s A Lady By Midnight. Like Trevor, Thorne saved Kate from the poverty of her childhood, making sure that she could be a real “lady” and never thinking that he’d encounter her again. Of course he does run into her again and has no idea what to do with himself.