The Reluctant Heiress

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Overview

A sparkly and witty historical romance for fans of Georgette Heyer, Amanda Quick and Downton Abbey

Being an heiress in 1920s Austria with nothing but a broken-down castle to your name and nary a penny in your purse could be frustrating for anyone but the Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein. Tessa, however, is thrilled with her situation, as it allows her to concentrate on her love of the arts—and no one in the Viennese opera company need know that their delightful and ...

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Overview

A sparkly and witty historical romance for fans of Georgette Heyer, Amanda Quick and Downton Abbey

Being an heiress in 1920s Austria with nothing but a broken-down castle to your name and nary a penny in your purse could be frustrating for anyone but the Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein. Tessa, however, is thrilled with her situation, as it allows her to concentrate on her love of the arts—and no one in the Viennese opera company need know that their delightful and charming under-wardrobe mistress is really a princess. But when the dashing self-made millionaire Guy Farne arrives at the opera in search of suitable entertainment for his high society guests, Tessa realizes that there may be more to life—and love—than just music. But while the attraction between them in undeniable, Guy's insufferable snob of a fiancée only solidifies Tessa's determination to keep her true identity a secret. Yet, after a chance meeting with the handsome Englishman, Tessa's reserve begins to melt, and she starts to wonder if it's not too late for a fairytale ending?
 

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Naomi Milliner
Although born under the same Zodiac sign, the star-crossed lovers in this tale hail from very different backgrounds. Tessa is a princess; Guy an abandoned orphan-turned-self-made millionaire. Tessa, though as wealthy as she is beloved, hides her royal lineage and works (for love, not money) for a struggling opera company. When the prologue ends, it is 1922 and both Guy (age 30) and Tessa (19) are in Vienna. Despite his great fortune, Guy is far from extravagant, but he purchases Tessa's immense castle with the intent to woo, and wed, his first and only love, Nerine, who is recently widowed. Though beautiful on the outside, Nerine is vain, greedy, shallow and self-absorbed. Unfortunately, it takes Guy quite a while to figure this out. Meanwhile, as he and Tessa frequently cross paths, she is smitten with him, and he is fond of her, but more as a big brother/protector (or so he thinks). As in all of Ibbotson's charming period romances, the flawless, endearing heroine's actions are misinterpreted by the handsome, passionate hero, who spends most of the book denying his love for her. By not introducing Tessa until page 37, the book is off to a slow start; readers will require patience as well as an excellent vocabulary: "Everyone…resisted with vituperative ferocity all suggestions of a move to more salubrious quarters." Still, Tessa is tremendously appealing, Vienna a marvelously romantic backdrop, and Ibbotson's trademark wit, warmth and wonderful characters will bring many a smile. This book was previously published as Magic Flutes. Reviewer: Naomi Milliner
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—In post-World War I Austria, Englishman and self-made magnate Guy Farne buys a countryside castle as part of an elaborate plan to woo Nerine, the woman he loved and lost as a penniless teenager. Meanwhile Tessa, Pfaffenstein Castle's headstrong young heiress, revels in the anonymity of life as a junior wardrobe mistress at the International Opera Company in Vienna. When Guy commissions the company to stage a production of Mozart's Magic Flute at Pfaffenstein, he and Tessa meet and bond over their love of art and music. He is unaware of her connection to his new estate until her identity is revealed at a lavish ball held to introduce Nerine to Austrian society. Though drawn to Tessa, Guy stays faithful to his deliciously snobby fiancée. In the meantime Tessa fields the dogged (and comic) marriage proposals of a local prince. Predictably, the star-crossed pair eventually get their well-deserved happy ending. The novel opens with too much telling instead of showing, but Ibbotson hits her stride once all the players assemble at the castle. Vivid details bring supporting characters to life. German phrases and literary allusions may escape young readers, but do not detract from the overall flow of the narrative. There is nothing groundbreaking here, but this is satisfactory historical romance for future fans of Philippa Gregory.—Amy Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780142412770
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/30/2009
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 368
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Eva Ibbotson, born Maria Charlotte Michelle Wiesner (21 January 1925 – 20 October 2010), was an Austrian-born British novelist, known for her children's books. Some of her novels for adults have been successfully reissued for the young adult market in recent years. For the historical novel Journey to the River Sea (Macmillan, 2001), she won the Smarties Prize in category 9–11 years, garnered unusual commendation as runner up for the Guardian Prize, and made the Carnegie, Whitbread, and Blue Peter shortlists. She was a finalist for the 2010 Guardian Prize at the time of her death. Her last book, The Abominables, was one of eight books on the longlist for the same award in 2012.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 43 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(25)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 43 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    This is a great young adult early 1920s

    In 1922, Princess Theresa-Maria of Pfaffenstein may be an heiress, but she will not inherit much more than a rundown castle. Most aristocrats would be appalled, but Tessa is euphoric, because her financial state allows her to do what she wants. Thus she works for the Viennese opera company as a wardrobe mistress hiding her royal connection from her peers.----------------

    First generation nouvelle riche English orphan millionaire Guy Farne comes to the opera house seeking a means to entertain his high society guests and his snobby fiancée. When he and Tessa meet they are attracted to one another and quickly fall in love. However, she is unsuited for him as he wants an aristocrat not a working girl as a wife. Meanwhile impoverished Prince Max loves Tessa and wants to marry her.-----------

    Though a young teen historical romance, THE RELUCTANT HEIRESS provides much more. The underlying premise throughout the complex story line is how much WWI shook up the world order; similar in tone to the excellent PBS series The people's Century especially how The Great War reshaped the rest of the twentieth century. Readers will need a bit of time to fully understand how the prime four characters feel about the new world order because Eva Ibottson has cleverly left clues about what would have been expected of each if WWI had not occurred. This is a great young adult early 1920s tale at a time when the enthusiasm of a new hope for world peace was waning into a great depression.-----------

    Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    sweet story

    Tessa has been raised to be a princess in the grand Austrian style but after losing her parents and most of the family fortune, she finds herself joyously happy to be working (for free) for the International Opera Company as a under-wardrobe mistress. Embracing her new life, Tessa feels only slight pains of regret when her aged aunts inform her of the proposed purchase of her family estate, the castle Pfaffenstein, by the millionaire Guy Farne for his fiance. Only this fiance is more in love with titles and money than Guy, but since she's so dang beautiful, he kind of missed that little detail. Tessa (of course) is awed by handsome Guy who helps her out of a few tight spots but it's not until she unknowingly returns to Pfaffenstein with her opera company that she discovers how connected she is to Guy.

    The best part of any Eva Ibbotson novel is her introduction of the principle characters. Each has a richly developed history with personality traits (sometimes quirks) and anecdotal references to their youth. Guy's story is one of those standout characters to me - Ms. Ibbotson's descriptions of Guy morphing from a foundling who would fight against perceived injustice into a successful man had me rooting for him early on. And just like Martha Hodge, his foster mother, I too was enchanted with his changing eye color - green for unsettled and sad and brilliant blue for joy.
    Even though I enjoy her stories, I sometimes wish Ms. Ibbotson's character's could experience love without all the heartbreak. But one of her true talents lie in being able to express the hopeless pain stemming from unrealized love. Tessa is a model of heartbreak when she discovers has no chance with Guy, so maybe you gotta stick with what you do well - but things do work out for her characters in the end. It just usually takes a long time and plenty of shuffling of partners.

    I've come to expect at least one nasty fiance and one surprise or disastrous wedding in each of her books. On the flip side, I also expect plenty of prose on the subject of music, dance or literature and heroines who are almost always super-humanly sweet. Even with these conventions, I still loved Guy and Tessa's story. Although I wish I could have seen them together more often, their shared passion for music and equality helped to create a pretty solid relationship for me. Tessa could have had a little more backbone occasionally, but since I had just read a couple hundred pages about how intimidating Guy can be, I can understand her reticence to speak up for herself at times. Other than that, it was a fabulous stroll through the musical paradise of Vienna that left me running for my own recording of Brahms Lullaby.

    seemichelleread.blogspot.com

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 15, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A great escapist read/romance for the not-always-so-girly girls

    I read several reviews of this book in online publishing newsletters, which raved about Eva Ibbotson's writing. And the book was a great price, so I figured I'd pick it up. While light romance usually isn't my thing, I did really enjoy the book, and was sad when it ended. It has a fairy-tale feel to it, but the characters are very well written, and I at least was able to immerse myself in the story and believe in it, even though many elements are very fantastical. It's a great girly read for not-so-girly girls.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 28, 2012

    I highly recommend this book to everyone.

    I really liked this book, as I have loved all of Eva Ibbotson's books that I have read. The thing that is unusual to me about this one is that I like Guy better than Tessa. Usually there isn't way too much background on the hero, but in this one you learned all about him. Tessa came off as slightly TOO innocent and forgiving for my taste. While I like a nice, clean romance with an innocent girl such as is in this book, I also like her to have a bit of spunk. Whatever I feel about the characters, the plot is excellent, the evil fiance...well, evil, and the romance great. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who was looking for a good read.

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  • Posted May 28, 2011

    Really good, but only readable once.

    This is a definitely awesome book. I love Eva Ibbotson and this novel has a lot of good to it. But I must say it's one of those stories you read only once. I bought it, and I enjoyed it, but It's not something I'd read over and over, like Ibbotson's Company of Swans. But it's definitely worth borrowing from a library, you won't be able to put it down!

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  • Posted August 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    History with a pleasant dash of romance

    After reading Countess Below Stairs (which I also thoroughly enjoyed), I fould myself drawn to the story of Tessa and Guy. I enjoy the "AHA!" moment Guy had at the first night at the Palace, but felt that usually that moment comes a bit later in the book.
    Although I enjoyed the romance, I felt that (to a certain extent) it came out of nowhere. I wished that the characters had had more one-on-one time so we could have seen the love flourish.
    Nerine was a thoroughly enjoyable character to laugh at due to her foolishness, but yet again I wished for a slightly different approach. Less emphasis on the silly thoughts going on in her seemingly small mind, and more on the relationship between Tessa and Guy would have been preferred.
    All in all, I truly do recommend this book. It keeps you reading and I had a very hard time putting it down. Dissapointed when it was over!Luckily, there are more books by Eva waiting for me :)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2009

    Sweet

    The Reluctant Heiress is a sweet, love story. I fell in love with Tessa and Guy...exceptional characters. My only complaint is that the descriptions were superfluous. I found myself skipping paragraphs at a time to get back to the meat of the story. I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys a good clean love story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Fantasic Story of Hope

    No one at the International Opera in Vienna knows the their under wardrobe mistress is really the Princess Theresa Maria of Pfaffentstein. However, young Tessa does not mind, she lives and breathes for the arts. When a self made millionaire, Guy Farne arrive from England, and buys Pfaffenstein castle, Tessa finds her world turned around. From the start her attraction to the undeniably handsome Guy is hard to fight. Guy, first, finds Tessa a shy girl who he takes it in himself to help. Though the closer their friendship becomes the harder they both find it difficult to fight a growing bond... a growing love between the both. But this spells absoulute chaos, particularly the barrier of Guy's utterly beautiful fiance...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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