Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander

Written by Ann Herendeen
Review by Nanette Donohue

Phyllida Lewis is a young woman of modest means whose distance from the epicenter of the Regency marriage mart has ensured that her choices of husbands have been lousy, at best. When an attractive man named Andrew Carrington visits her Sussex home looking for a bride, she’s suspicious about his intentions, but his frankness and good looks compel her to accept his offer. Andrew wants a marriage based on honesty, and honest he is—he lets Phyllida know that he’s gay and that he has no intention of abandoning the Brotherhood of Philander, the high-class “madge club” that he has belonged to for years. Not surprisingly, Andrew’s sudden marriage is a shock to the ton, and a wager quickly surfaces: will Andrew, despite his disinterest in women, manage to produce an heir to the Carrington earldom?

Herendeen takes many plot devices of the traditional Regency romance and turns them, quite delightfully, on their ear. Phyllida is an independent, spirited heroine who refuses to let marriage change her into a meek, submissive lady, and Andrew is, as you might expect, slightly clueless as to what women want. A highly amusing case of mistaken identity leads Andrew to believe that Phyllida is the author of one of Jane Austen’s novels, and a subplot involving a meddling secretary who seems to be embezzling from the Carrington household adds action and intrigue. The final chapter, which features a play on the marriage scene that typically completes a Regency romance, is the perfect ending for this genre-bending novel. While Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander is enjoyable on many levels, readers of Regency romances who appreciate new interpretations of a classic genre will be delighted with the games the author has played in this novel.