Friday, July 21, 2017

Jane Orcutt's "All the Tea in China" - a lively and non-traditional Regency romance

All the Tea in ChinaFun-loving Isabella Goodrich has never quite fit the mold of a proper, young Englishwoman, and when she realizes she has been put firmly on the shelf, she makes a radical decision. Having just had an encounter with the less fortunate and seen a new possibility for her future, she jumps a ship to China to become a missionary. However, the missionary she joins, Phineas Snowe, is proving to be hardly what he seems, and he is intent on putting her back on the next ship to England. Will her impulsive decision be her ruin? Or does God have a plan for her beyond that of the average Englishwoman?

This is the second time I've read the book, and it still greatly entertained me. It's definitely not one's average Regency romance, since it takes place primarily at sea on the voyage to China, and many of the popular social situations of the Regency era do not apply on an ocean voyage. Isabella is hardly the average Regency heroine, being not only scholarly but also athletically inclined, and actually desirous of marriage (whereas so many bluestocking spinsters tend to be in denial). For that matter, our hero is far from the suitable, traditional Englishman one comes to expect in the genre.

It's a lively, light-hearted book that nevertheless touches on some serious subjects, such as prejudice and loving those who persecute you, but in a gentle, compassionate way, not sermonizing. And I like the romance, how it kind of creeps up on Isabella and suddenly we see her perspective shift.

I wish the author had lived to write more Rollicking Romances.

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