The Reluctant Heiress, A Company of Swans, The Morning Gift, and A Song for Summer are four romances by Eva Ibbotson. These were all rereads for me, so I'm going to briefly review them in one batch. Frankly, the plots are all fairly similar: a young girl with not much experience of the world, a handsome and enigmatic, yet somehow vulnerable, man a few years older than the girl, a sweetly blossoming romance, a misunderstanding that threatens to separate them, and then a satisfying conclusion. It's not a bad formula for a romance, but it is a formula, which is obvious when you read these all at one go. Ibbotson has a knack for likable characters, and the settings (mostly Europe around WWI or WWII) are deftly rendered; I'm longing for a trip to Vienna now.
There is a fifth book that would go with these four: A Countess Below Stairs,
which I reviewed last spring. It does fit in with the formula, but in
my opinion it is the best of Ibbotson's romances and stands out from
the crowd. Of the four I'm reviewing here, A Song for Summer is my favorite and A Company of Swans
is my least-favorite, with the other two falling about equally
between those two. If you're a fan of historical romance, I definitely recommend
these books, though you may want to read other things in between!
(Reviewed from my personally purchased copies.)