Nicola and the Viscount

Nicola and the Viscount is the first book I’ve read by Meg Cabot (author of The Princess Diaries). It’s a pretty typical romance novel for the younger set, which basically means the heroine is younger (16 in this case) and the raciest it gets is some mentions of kissing. It’s a Regency romance (think Jane Austen) with a touch of adventure when Nicola is kidnapped.

Nicola, despite apparently being intelligent and feisty and all the things we should want from a heroine, struck me as rather vapid through much of the book. I know she’s still a kid, but she’s looking for a husband and making decisions about the rest of her life so she needs to start acting a bit more grown up. I’d have preferred to see her care about more than cute boys and fashion—being poorly or unflatteringly dressed is the worst crime in Nicola’s eyes. I suppose this was meant to keep it lighthearted, but it wasn’t over the top enough to be really amusing like Etiquette and Espionage, nor was it realistic enough for us to really identify with the characters, like The Season.

SPOILER ALERT: Things you might want to know before suggesting this to your kid

Intelligence and Education

Nicola, an orphan, knows most of her friends from the finishing school she attended. She was one of the smartest girls in the school. Her much older cousin, ostensibly her guardian, thinks her education was totally wasted because she’s a girl and because she still won’t do what he thinks makes the most sense.

Although originally quite distracted by the attractiveness of the men around her, eventually Nicola realizes that a brain and something to talk about is also a nice thing.


Nicola is fascinated by the new fangled trains and is daring enough to actually ride on one, but when a new train line wants to run through her property, she stands in the way. Progress is only good when its possible negative effects are felt by other people instead of you. (OK, that’s pretty cynical of me, and that message isn’t explicit. But it’s there if you read between the lines.)


Nicola’s parents died when she was very young, so she was raised by the older couple at her country estate who are like grandparents to her. Her only other actual family is a much older cousin and his son. The older cousin is a despicable human being. His son shows a few redeeming qualities in the end and sticks up for Nicola a bit, and eventually for himself as well.

We see a few other families because Nicola spends her time living in London with her classmates’ families. One family is a bit dysfunctional, but the other portrays loving parents and fondly bickering siblings.


Nicola is enamored of “the God” who is so handsome that nothing could possibly be wrong with him. Eventually she opens her eyes, but attractiveness is still one of the very most important things in her quest for a husband.

There’s a throw away comment where Nicola is disappointed to learn that the boys who are swimming aren’t naked.


“Damned” is used when Nicola is feeling feisty.

Breaking Rules

It turns out that Nicola sneaks and lies frequently and well. She breaks some social rules, but does it knowingly—she’s been well educated about how she ought to behave and we hear a good bit about those lessons.


When Nicola won’t cooperate and sell her childhood home, she’s eventually kidnapped and nearly forced to marry against her will. It all works out in the end and she’s unharmed. All the men involved are sent to prison for what they did to her. Several people stood by and did nothing when she was threatened, though.


It’s a pretty run of the mill Regency romance, but intended for the younger set. I’m a big fan of Regency romance, so I’ve read a good bit of it. This is definitely not my favorite—mostly because Nicola wears on me—but it’s not terrible. My daughter enjoyed it and I had no problem with her reading it. It’s a nice diversion. It’s appropriate for any reader interested in mostly lighthearted historical romance.


Nicola and the Viscount by Meg Cabot
Published in 2002 by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Read my daughter’s copy


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