Underestimating Miss Cecilia (Regency Brides: Daughters of Aynsley)

Written by Carolyn Miller
Review by Misty Urban

The middle daughter and thus second in the Daughters of Aynsley trilogy, shy Cecilia Hatherleigh suffers a painful unrequited love for the earl’s son next door, Edward Amherst. Ned, the prodigal son, has been forgiven for his past sins by his family, but not by Lady Aynsley, who insists he is no match for her gentle daughter. When Ned returns to his London law practice to advocate for the marginalized, Cecy, aching for him despite his professed lack of interest, pours her agonies into journal entries and letters to the newspapers declaring her sympathies for the suffering poor. Attraction sparks when the couple are finally brought together at a house party, but Cecy’s traumatic head injury and Ned’s guilt present final obstacles to their happiness.

Miller adds dimension to the beloved Austen formula with acknowledgments of class and ethnic prejudice, as well as a glance at the Peterloo massacre, but the characters seem more often to congratulate each other on their Christian faith rather than grow in and through its teachings. Fans who find Cecy most interesting when, post-memory loss, she starts finally speaking her mind will no doubt look forward to her strong-willed sister Verity’s story, next.