When Charles finds out that the girl he saw that night is employed in his household, he begins to have idle fancies about her and soon he can't get her out of his mind. A duke can't marry a housemaid, so he offers her carte blanche, and gets roundly slapped by outraged Mary.
Mary had understood that as a housemaid she would have to work hard, but even so, the dawn to dusk labor involved is exhausting, her roommate's hostility is endless, and she is involved through no fault of her own in unfortunate incidents. Nevertheless, Charles's mother the Dowager Duchess is impressed by her and makes her the personal maid of their young ward Lady Diana, who is soon to make her debut. However, when Mary is found with one of the Hamilton jewels, she is suspected of being a thief or a lightskirt, and with Sir Barton and Gervase hot on her trail, she is in danger of losing her refuge -- and Charles as well.
At first I thought the idea of an earl's daughter successfully masquerading as a housemaid was pretty lame, but the author showed so much knowledge and understanding of upstairs vs downstairs dynamics that it all seemed pretty credible. This book is written in a slightly old-fashioned style which has more in common with Georgette Heyer than, say, Julia Quinn. I liked it. Evelyn Lovelace, Earl of Sinamor, as his name indicates, had grown up without love in his life.
His gentle mother died when he was born, and his father the old Earl despised him, even accusing him of being a bastard, though the family resemblance was plain to see. When he couldn't take any more of it, Lovelace ran away and bought himself a pair of colors. He was wounded in the leg and eventually sold his commission, by which time his father had died and he was now Earl of Sinamor.
Sinamor is amazed to return home one day to find two females in mourning awaiting him. Miss Phillipa Raithby and her companion have travelled down from Yorkshire, bringing with them a letter written by her father Harry, Sinamor's old army friend, not long before he died. The letter informs Sinamor that Harry has appointed him guardian to his 17 year old daughter. Phillipa has lived in Yorkshire all her life, and the only thing she really cares about is her horses; she is a shabby outspoken hoyden. Sinamor turns her over to his cousin Winifred, who has five sons but no daughter and rather likes the idea of having a young girl to fuss over.
Phillipa has very little desire to shine in London and resents having things decided for her, but she tries hard to learn all the new skills of dancing and deportment. She makes many friends in London, but she is targeted by a dissolute fortune hunter who needs her money -- and by Sinamor's ex-mistress, who has seen Sinamor's growing feelings for Phillipa and wants revenge for being discarded.
Back in the good old days, I could count on going by my local Waldenbooks around the first of every month and picking up three or four new regencies.
Signet had classic writers like Mary Balogh, Edith Layton and Carla Kelly, and they also had a number of writers not quite up to that level but who always turned in a good read. Carol Proctor is one such writer. There's nothing new in this book, but the story is well told, the characters are likeable, I didn't spot any historical gaffes, and I liked her writing style.
An enjoyable read. Certainly a well told story although the masterful hero seems somewhat dated. I think Phillipa is the arch-typical feisty heroine before they became as common in Regencies as fallen leaves in autumn. Her lack of education stems from neglect rather than lack of application, but I can't quite believe her ineptitude as an artist can be explained by her never in her life seen any paintings or drawing.
I found the constant bickering between the hero and heroine a tad tedious at the end but otherwise I recommend it. I've read much worse! Since the death of her missionary parents in India, Miss Emmaline Hazlett has lived in the village of Bevindale with her stingy Uncle Markham, a clergyman in name but not in spirit. Uncle Markham has wasted no money or attention on his ward. Her only use to him is as a commodity he can marry off to the highest bidder, who is thus far a lunking local sheep farmer named Will Cooper.
Uncle Markham travels to London for one of his few indulgences, a particular blend of tea, and he allows Emmaline to go along with him on one such trip. Emmaline is disappointed at not being allowed even to see anything of the city or its fascinating shops, and on impulse, in a tiny spark of rebellion, she buys a small cluster of red cherries from a street vendor to trim her awful gray bonnet.
Lady Minerva, Dowager Countess Langdon, has read the tea leaves that very morning, and they inform her that the perfect bride for her fashionisto grandson Cedric will appear to them that afternoon; as a sign they will see a dove nibbling cherries.
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Lady Minerva believes that males of her line tend to die early and she is anxious to see Cecil married and producing an heir. In the street they see Emmaline in her dove gray bonnet with its brave little decoration of cherries, and Lady Minerva declares she has found the paragon bride for Cecil. Lady Minerva cleverly plays to Uncle Markham's greed and pretty much buys Emmaline from him, on the pretext that her health is frail and she needs a companion.
Emmaline has no idea of her real purpose. To her amazement, she is treated as a guest rather than an employee, given a beautiful room and sumptuous new clothes, and taken by Lady Minerva to most important parties of the season. Cedric and Emmaline are friendly enough, but there is an instantaneous attraction between Emmaline and Nicolas. Nicolas knows that courting Emmaline openly will put her in terrible danger, as he has a maddened enemy sworn to punish him and make him suffer. His confusing and contradictory behavior towards her puzzles Emmaline greatly and she determines to find out what is at the root of it.
This is a well written, nicely plotted and paced novel; it's the sort of thing I admire for craftsmanship rather than because it evoked any sort of emotional reaction in me, because it didn't. I enjoyed the flashes of humor in Lady Minerva's maneuvering, and it had one or two memorably phrased paragraphs.
It falls in that great gray area of 'not really absorbing but not a waste of time either' books. Miss Diana Talbot and her widowed mother Violet make their home with Violet's mother, Lady Throckmorton, a redoubtable grande dame of uncertain temper. Diana can deal with her grandmother's sharp tongue, but Violet, whose temperament is much more gentle, finds it a difficult situation.
Diana's grandmother is pressuring her to marry, and Lord Brownlow seems a suitable candidate, The ladies do not know what the gentlemen know -- Brownlow is really a louche fortune hunter. Johnny has been in France on business; he is the covert operative for the British known as the Black Domino.
Diana has fallen for the daring Black Domino, who gave her a black rose, but she takes Johnny for the lightweight indolent lord he poses as publicly. How curious that seemingly frivolous Johnny should rouse a prickle of attraction in her, and Brownlow, whom she believes to be the Domino, should do so many things which don't seem to be Domino-ish, and leave her cold and uncomfortable. This book hasn't anything particularly unusual or novel about it, and its plot is pretty routine and rather cliched.
In an author with a less pleasant style, I probably wouldn't have finished it. If you like them on the slight side, this is a pleasant hour's read, despite its overfamiliarity. Faustina had had two London seasons with her Aunt Louisa sister of Faustina's mother but had not found any gentleman she wished to marry, much to her aunt's hysterical anger, but she is quite happy with her father's company, as he is with hers. Faustina had known the current Earl of Pendarvis, Hugh Crale, when he lived at home, and thought him a kind young man. Hugh, however, had quarreled with his father when the latter remarried; Hugh's stepmother influenced his father against him in favor of Vincent, her son and Hugh's half brother.
Hugh flung off to live abroad, where he met and married a dancer who bore him a daughter, Lady Althea, now a child of six. It was not a happy marriage; Hugh was disillusioned when his bride's loving behavior before marriage rapidly degenerated into shrill selfishness after, and he did not mourn when she died. Hugh dislikes the child as a reminder of his folly in marrying her mother, and has relegated her to the care of a negligent governess.
When Faustina helps get Althea down from the tree where the child had climbed to see into the stables, she is appalled at the frosty disinterest Hugh shows in the child, and lets fly her opinion of him and his coldness. Each time they meet thereafter, Faustina and Hugh rub each other the wrong way, and her dislike of him grows. For his part, Hugh would like to forget all about her, but he can't. I liked this novel for its richly textured family dynamics there are many characters and relationships I haven't mentioned and its shrewd character observation.
I also liked the portrait of two contrasting fathers - Lord Egmont, who loves, cherishes and respects his daughter, and Pendarvis, who dislikes his own little daughter for no fault of her own and thinks his duty is done to her as long as she is housed, fed and cared for by his servants. Fortunately Faustina kicks his butt often enough and hard enough to change his behavior, and I enjoyed seeing her do it. There is I am pretty sure at least one title error, and there's a minor spy plot, but the author wisely didn't allow it to interfere with the real story here.
Miss Christina Frame, the vicar's daughter, first meets Domenic Rogers Winston, Lord Stanhope when he nearly runs her down on a narrow country lane while she is out doing the parish duties her ailing father is unable to perform. When she returns home chilled and soaked , she learns that her father is much worse; the doctor tells her that his lungs are affected and he must go to a warmer climate if he is to have any hope of recovery. Christina goes for help to the Earl of Aylesbury; she doesn't know it, but he's the father of the man who caused the accident.
The Earl has long been concerned about his son's wild ways and the gossip he's causing, and thinks marriage is the solution. He tells Christina that he will send her father to Majorca to recuperate — but only if she agrees to marry his son. He doesn't mean it — he would have helped his old friend the vicar anyway — but he doesn't tell Christina that. His son sees marriage as a way of preserving his freedom to do as he pleases; nobody can expect him to marry one of his ladybirds if he's already married. In a space of a day or so, Christina's father is on his way to Majorca and Christina is made Viscountess Stanhope.
Her mother is long dead and she has no sisters, so her friend Mrs. Mercival tells her about her 'marital duties' — that all men are not like her gentle father, that they are lustful beasts but it is her duty to endure. On their wedding night, Domenic finds Christina face down sobbing on the bed, a victim not only of the fears her friend has raised but a thundering case of the grippe.
Domenic leaves her to recover in London while he goes off on a visit of pleasure. When Domenic returns, he finds his London home wondrously improved, but he also finds Christina scrubbing the hearth in an old dress, and he is angry because he thinks she doesn't know how to behave as a viscountess should. She is forever rescuing children, training the cook and generally helping unfortunates, some of whom lead her into dangerous situations. Domenic hasn't yet realized it, but he is falling in love with his own virgin wife. There's nothing new in this tale, though it's pleasantly enough told.
It does leave one glaring loose end which I found annoying — Domenic never does learn that his father blackmailed Christina into marrying him, but then he's painted as a pretty hotheaded guy who probably wouldn't have listened anyway. He is shown as a person in transition from an oblivious self-centered nature to a more socially conscious one, because of Christina's influence, and he turns out to be more likeable than I would have thought. Miss Mary Hadfield has just learned that her only brother, Giles, has died under iffy circumstances.
Her father's pride is tied up in being Hadfield of Hadfield Priory; he had no value whatever for any of his daughters, only for Giles, the heir, but Giles was an opium addict and died of an overdose which may not have been accidental. At the news of Giles's death, Mr. Hadfield took to his bed, physically and mentally ill with grief, selfishness, and some secret he has kept from the family. The heir apparent is now a cousin whom he detests.
That cousin had two sons; the elder of them left home years ago and is thought dead, but the younger, Jason, is in the neighborhood. Jason is a godlike gorgeous young man who professes an attraction for Mary, and on paper he'd be a good match, especially as Mary would be able to stay in her home at the Priory. This is quite an old fashioned sort of book, with stylistic echoes of Jane Austen — indeed, if Jane had written a book with a missing heir plot and a few intense kisses, the language might have sounded very much like this.
The attitudes are authentic 19th century -- the heroine doesn't turn into Mary Hadfield, Kickass Girl Detective; instead she asks a man she trusts to do the investigating while she stays home and, as the only remaining single daughter, puts her own feelings aside and does her duty toward her father, despite his self-centeredness and lack of affection for her.
Despite the obviousness of its plot, I liked it. Widowed Penelope had been married off at 17 to Josiah Bransom, a man more than twice her age. The world believes it was an ideal marriage because even several years after his death, she has not put off her mourning clothes nor gone much into society. In reality Penelope was trapped in a miserable marriage which still gives her nightmares; Josiah was a vicious hypocrite who inflicted many little cruelties and despised her because she never got pregnant. Penelope's mourning is a false picture forced upon her by the terms of Josiah's will, which requires that she play the part of the dutiful grieving widow or lose the moderate sum allotted to her.
Penelope doesn't care about her restrictions much, as she never wants to remarry and have to endure such nights again. Against the wishes of her husband's nephew Edward Bransom, who is his executor, heir and enforcer, Penelope has come to London with her beautiful younger sister Melissa Woodard Missy. They are staying with Lady Halstead, whose daughter Emmeline is also making her debut. Lord Charles Mortimer had fallen for Georgina, but when she married Lord Philby Staverton instead, he borrowed money from Trueblood, a neighbor, and went off to the wars.
One morning when Penelope has gone early to the park to paint, she sees a man beating a young girl and wades in to stop him. Charles sees this and intervenes to protect her. The girl, Meg, is the drunken bully's daughter. Charles gives her a coin and Penelope gives her a paper with her address, telling Meg to come to her if things get bad again.
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Edward blames Penelope and plans a revenge which will punish Penelope and gain him her annuity. Meg's father wants her back to fund his gin habits. Trueblood has a convoluted plan of his own. Georgina is pushing Charles for marriage. Penelope, whose growing love for Charles has made her come alive at last, must somehow evade all the traps set for her. This is a tale of crisscrossed motives and complicated circumstances. The deck was truly stacked against Penelope, what with her indifferent father, her weak brother, her mean, amoral husband, her suspicious lover Charles and her wish to prevent Missy from ever experiencing similar suffering.
I admired this heroine, who, with steady grace and courage, did the best she could, especially given the law of the day. On a stylistic level, there are one or two places where the book approaches 'research dump', but not to a point that pulled me out of the story. My interest was held to the very end. Ever since the death of her parents when she was quite young, Miss Caroline Finlay has lived with her grandfather, Sir Egbert Finlay. Although he has a genuine fondness for his granddaughter, Sir Egbert is very strict, allowing her little freedom and demanding her constant attendance. Carrie has had only one friend in the district, Bertrand Carteret, the younger brother of Lord Julian Carteret, who owns the neighboring estate.
One summer day when Carrie has escaped for a few hours, she is standing in a stream with her skirts rucked up, watching fish, when she is seen by a man on the bridge. She thinks him the new Carteret gamekeeper; she doesn't know he is Lord Julian come home for a while, nor does she know that Julian has fallen head over heel in love at first sight. When Carrie's godmother taxes Sir Egbert with not having given Carrie a chance to meet young men, he decides to deal with the problem summarily by betrothing her to a man of his choice, rather than allowing her to leave him to go off and have a Season.
Sir Egbert arranges the betrothal and the papers are all signed, but when Carrie is called down to be told, she is horrified at losing any prospect of freedom and passing from her grandfather's control to a stranger's before she's had any fun at all, particularly when she has always fancied that she cared for her betrothed's brother Bertrand. She reacts with revulsion.
Julian is hurt, but, being older, he understands quite a bit of her feelings; he wangles her grandfather into keeping the betrothal secret until Carrie has a bit of town bronze, but he does not tell her that he loves her. Once in London and staying with her godmother, Carrie has all the excitement and entertainments she could wish, but her godmother has let her go about with a questionable cousin, and Julian is too busy with his work to escort her.
Julian has a problem: he works in the admiralty, and on the eve of a possible sea invasion by Napoleon, information about the British fleet's disposition is being leaked and he doesn't know how. Inexperienced Carrie, without enough proper guidance by her godmother, falls into a scrape -- she gambles beyond her means and thus becomes vulnerable to her shady cousin's machinations. I liked this book because it seemed grounded in good characterizations. Carrie isn't stupid, but she's very young and her grandfather has kept her so close that she's had no opportunity before London to learn how the world works.
Carrie's grandfather isn't mean, but he's self-centered enough to think that what's convenient for him is also best for her. Julian might seem an indifferent lover, but the work he is doing really is vital to England's survival and the author lets us see how important it is to him and why he can't dance attendance on his beloved.
When any character makes a choice of what to say or not to whom and when, the author explains why it happened that way, and the explanations seem credible to me. If all the other regency writers had stopped using the 'spies in high society' plotline after this book, I think it would have been a good thing, as it's done well enough here. Miss Jamaica de Bowen's father was a sea captain who gave her that name because her eyes were the same color as the island's sea. Jamie's mother is a widow who has remarried; Oliver Canwood, her new husband, is a lovable but financially inept gentleman who has lost the family money, including Jamie's dowry and that of her younger sister Kitty, in unlucky investments.
All that remains is riding on one last investment, a cotton shipment due next year; the Canwoods, and all the de Bowens, badly need money. Jamie's Aunt Kate the Duchess of Camberleigh, a de Bowen by marriage gave both girls a season, but only Kitty a shallower sort found a husband; Jamie was far too particular. Jamie has refused a second season and has told her aunt she'd rather become a governess if she can't marry a man she loves and respects. Her aunt is horrified, but agrees to help her find a position on the condition that if Oliver's investment fails, Jamie will repair the family fortunes by marrying the Marquis of Clare, a man more than twice her age whom Jamie finds absolutely repellent.
So Jamie will have at least a few months of comparative freedom before her fate is sealed, one way or the other. Aunt Kate finds Jamie a job with Mr. John Greville. The Grevilles have two children of their own, Richard and Sarah; Caroline, the third child in the household, is being raised by them because her own father, Charles, Earl of Dorrington, can't stand the sight of her - she is a living reminder of his wife's multiple infidelities - and when Jamie defies his orders about little Carrie, he is enraged.
While she is with the Grevilles as governess, Jamie is pursued by charming and likeable Andrew MacFarland, who is bent on her eventual seduction. Charles, bitter about his previous wife, intends never to love and trust again, and is in search of a quiet, plain woman for breeding purposes to continue his line, but he's also strongly drawn to Jamie. The situation is further complicated because Charles believes Andrew to be Carrie's real father. I have seldom come across a book which contains this many howling clunkers yet is such an enjoyable read.
Charles, the current Earl of Dorrington is the younger brother of Mr. Greville, who was disinherited by their father for marrying an actress. I don't know of any circumstances under which Charles could have become earl if John were still living; their father could disinherit John from unentailed property, but not the title or entailed property that went with it. Charles calls the Duchess 'Lady Camberleigh'; it's not credible that an earl would not know the proper form of address for a duchess. As in the other Ashton I've read, our heroine goes walking in London unaccompanied, which a young lady of her class would not have done, being beneath her dignity and unsafe as well.
But I liked all the characters whatever their names and relationships should have been and I found this a very entertaining read. I'd much rather read one like this which engages my emotions and holds my interest than something dry and boring that gets the technical points right. Miss Julia Brandon, an orphan, had lived with her Aunt Sophia until the old lady died, as a poor relation and an unpaid servant. Julie has a cousin, Louisa Linley, living in London, so she goes there, hoping to be taken in or at least to stay there until she can find a position. Julie has one skill: she can draw and paint.
Louisa's terrifying housekeeper Mrs. Skinner tells Julie that Louisa has gone to the Argyle Rooms and Julie goes to find her there, not knowing that Louisa is a courtesan, the notorious Red Fawn, and it's the night of the Cyprians Ball. Nicholas Stafford, a former naval captain, finds Julie there in her shabby clothes and thinks she's a whore like Louisa. It happens he needs one to muddy up his cousin Oliver's too pure reputation so that his uncle, the Earl of Arlington, who believes Nick is a wastrel and rake, will find that Oliver's character is no better than his own.
Julie agrees to pose as a lady painter there to paint Arlington's portrait and to use the opportunity to compromise Oliver. Nick expects to marry Miss Georgina Vernon, and both he and Julie try to disregard the instant attraction between them. I had mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, the author has a fairly good sense of humor, likeable characters and pleasant style. On the other hand, the plot is very contrived even for a romp. Also the author doesn't show much understanding of social customs of the era at a picnic Wyatt, who is thought by all to be Nick's servant, eats with the Earl and his guests and some things just make no sense at all Nick tells Mrs.
Fitch to order new gowns for Julie and her for their masquerade; they order gowns, shoes, hats and gloves, but no new underthings; in hilly Bath all travel in carriages rather than walking or calling for sedan chairs.
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For me the weak elements in the book outweigh the good ones and I can't recommend it. Miss Theodora Minturn, a junior mistress at Miss Whitwell's school in Bath, learns that she is a beneficiary under the will of Lord Stanford of Ardsley Hall -- a will with some highly unusual provisions. The late Lord Stanford had wished to see the Hall once again filled with family and children, and so he instructed that aside from a modest annuity to each his two co-heirs must marry not necessarily to each other within six months or forfeit their share. In lieu of marrying, if they find the lost Zamora emeralds, which are said to be hidden somewhere at Ardsley, they will keep their bequest.
If they fail, the lawyer will seek out the next two heirs and make them the same offer. During the six months, she and her co-heir will have the use of Ardsley Hall and a London house. Thea's co-heir is Myles Chilcot, Lord Deveron, and they dislike each other on sight; however the terms of the will constrain them to share the Hall. Thea further annoys Myles by having a wall erected through the center of the entrance, so that they can't cross over to the other's half.
Myles has been courting Miss Cordelia Albury, a pushy Incomparable who can't wait to get her claws on the hall for a bit of redecorating -- or to search for the legendary emeralds. Thea, with her companion Mrs. Susan Farraby, enjoys her new lifestyle, which includes nice clothes and London entertainments. She is guided by the advice of a new acquaintance, Laurent Brainerd, Lord Bourne, who understands London's ways.
He, like most people, expects Thea to make a push to marry Myles as the solution to both their problems, but Thea is in no hurry to marry anybody, having a romantic streak in her practical managing makeup. Here's another book which wouldn't be published in this form today. Hero and heroine don't spend all their time together, and for some time there's some uncertainty as to who the actual hero is. There's no sex. It has many subsidiary characters, lots of conversation and social doings.
It's not so much a romance as it is a mystery those emeralds and a coming of age story for Thea. It even has some paranormal elements like an old gothic. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but you have to be in the mood for an old fashioned tale told in a fashion that's out of style now. Although at 16 she was a bit young, vicar's daughter Miss Zoe Bennett attended her first ball at Merefield Park, the home of Melicent, the new Lady Stratton.
While there she met and was dazzled by Jerrold Layton, the second son of the Earl of Woodforde. Jerrold plied Zoe with champagne which she had never had before until she was drunk too. When Jerrold said he wanted to make love to her, she thought he meant marriage, and Jerrold, by then quite drunk, said it was a capital notion, and so they eloped to Gretna Green and were married by a clergyman there, Zoe having retained enough idea of what was proper to insist on a clergyman instead of an 'over the anvil' wedding.
In the morning, Zoe awoke next to a now sober Jerrold, but Jerrold had no idea who she was; he thought she was a whore and offered to pay her. Zoe, angry and hurt, took the money and fled home, taking her marriage lines with her. Zoe could not bear to tell her father and disgrace him, so she went to Cousin Augusta in Bristol. When she discovered she was pregnant, her cousin helped her think up a story, and she became Mrs. David Manning, the widow of an American ship's captain sadly lost at sea.
When her cousin died she moved back home to live with her brother Edmund, now rector in her father's place, and became a well paid and sought after portrait artist. Only Edmund and she know the truth about her son Philip's parentage. In the meantime Jerrold's father had died, and his scheming cousin Oliver had Davenant, a tool of his, manufacture a quarrel with Jerrold's older brother Trevor, now the earl; they dueled and Davenant shot Trevor dead.
Jerrold was now the Earl, and needed to have an heir or see it all go to Oliver, whom he despises; the problem is, he had the mumps as an adult, and he now believes he is sterile. When he sees six year old Philip, the image of himself and his brother at that age, he puts two and two together and realizes that he must be Philip's father and that Philip, if legitimate, is his only heir. When Zoe tells him that they had been legally married, Jerrold insists that she take up her role as Countess of Woodforde and raise little Lord Silverbridge with him as a family.
Zoe agrees though she still burns with resentment; she will go through the motions publicly, but in private theirs is to remain a marriage in name only. An uneasy friendship develops between them, but enemies endanger their fragile new family relationship. I wouldn't say this book was padded, exactly, but it seemed to me reading it that it suffered from too many London society events which don't advance the story much and seem to be there only so that the author can drop in famous regency people. It's not what I'd call a research dump, but it does slow things down, making it seem padded.
I think also that having the hero take so long to figure out the villainy that's made so obvious to the reader makes him somewhat less than a rocket scientist. If you are into regency high society doings, this may be of interest, but I can't give it a recommendation for much of anything else. After closing the cover I remembered this book for one reason in particular - the in my opinion totally ridiculous and stupid decision made by the heroine of getting on her high horses, running away and then, when finding herself pregnant, still refusing to contact her lawful wedded husband. If the hero is no rocket scientist then the heroine is a perferct match for him.
Being 16 can only excuse so much. I was too irritated with spending time with these two dimwits to take much note of anything else. Like Janice I can't recommend it although not for the slow plot but the sheer idiocy of the main couple. Miss Regina Alderstock's mother remarried after her diplomat husband's death to a Spanish gentleman and died some years thereafter. She might have gone back to England then and found a home with some relative, but she elected to stay on in Burgos with her stepsister Conchita and her stepfather Don Ottavio, even though the town was occupied by the French.
Her stepbrother Filipe has left university to fight with the Spanish resistance. With her stepfather ill, Reggie is the mainstay of the household. Reggie is English, but her stepfather's position and the interest of Monsieur de Thierry, the French commandant of the town, have kept her safe thus far.
On one ordinary day in June , as Reggie is out doing the marketing, she sees a Spanish peasant badly injured when he pushes a little boy out of the way of a load of falling logs. When Reggie sees his face, she knows he is no peasant. Reggie has him brought to her home to have his injuries tended and a friendship, or something more, develops between them. Adam knows the dangers and hardships women with the army or in a war zone would be risking, and he wants her safely back in England -- but Reggie has patriotic feelings too and strongly wishes to do her part in winning the war.
I like this book as much as an adventure story as a romance. The relationship between Reggie and Adam grows and deepens in a natural way as each learns more about the other. The descriptions of Reggie's wartime experiences seem very realistic to me. The elements of romance and adventure are pretty well balanced in this book; it's one of my favorites. However, he is not the Duke's biological son, but the offspring of an affair between the Duchess and Lord Powys. Richard and his half-siblings were raised in a separate establishment, and Richard, without knowing why, had always been told to stay away when the Duke and Duchess came to visit.
One day on a dare Richard came to greet his father the Duke, and the enraged Duke beat the boy up, breaking an arm and several ribs. Richard was summarily sent off to live with Parson Freeman, out of the Duke's sight, still unconscious from the beating that nearly killed him. Since that time Richard has not seen his mother or his siblings and wants nothing to do with any of them; he has even had his name legally changed. Richard now augments his army pay by writing satiric novels about the adventures of Don Alphonso, a highborn proud and stupid Spaniard.
While serving in the Peninsula he had met and married Dona Isabel, the daughter of a Spanish hidalgo, by whom he has two small children, Amy and Tom. After Dona Isabel died, Richard had to make other arrangements for his children. Emily Foster, a widow with a young son of her own Matt , is looking for something to do to bring in some money so that she won't be a charge on her family. Richard arranges to leave his children with while he goes back to the wars. But Napoleon's forces are not Richard's only enemies; the old Duke thought to be a madman has died, but his enmity, enhanced by greed, lives on in the new Duke and his brother Lord George.
Not only is Richard's life in danger, but his children's lives as well -- and the life of anyone who befriends him as Emily has. I really liked this novel and I can see why so many consider it a classic. Richard and Emily, the central characters are decent and honorable people, and there's a great cast of subsidiary characters, especially Richard's sister Lady Sarah and her husband Robin, and Richard's doomed friend Tom Conway. This is a rich, absorbing novel with a great deal of period flavor.
These are not the 21st century people in funny old clothes that I find in so many recent regencies. I was left with the feeling that these people really did live and breathe in regency England. I can't recommend it too highly. Sheila Simonson is a very talented author that wrote way too few Regencies. Her Cousinly Connexion is perhaps my personal favorite but Bar Sinister is a compelling read and you cannot but root for the characters.
Perhaps not quite as action-packed as some modern books, and the hero and heroine do spend a lot of time apart as well, the characters are so complex and so well drawn, very lifelike indeed, that I did not care. Like Janice, this is a book I unhesitatingly recommend!
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- Donne senza amore (Il filo azzurro) (Italian Edition).
Note: This book is somewhat linked to Lady Elizabeth's Comet and Love And Folly but the connection is so slight the book can easily be read as a stand alone. When she was six, both of Lady Jane Fitzmaurice's parents died in a boating accident neither could swim. Her guardianship passed to her mother's brother, Edward Stanton, Marquis of Rayleigh, who was 26 at the time.
Jane had not been close to her parents as with many highborn families of the time, she hardly knew them , but she was frightened to leave her home in Ireland and her greatest comforts there, her pony and her freedom in riding. As it happens, the Marquis was an easygoing young man, and he had one of the best racing and breeding studs in England.
He had no idea what a young orphan girl might need, so he bought her two ponies. He had no way of knowing that this would be precisely the best way to comfort this child. David Chance, a neighbor boy a year older than Jane, was hired to help exercise the ponies. He and Jane became best friends immediately, when Jane showed her ease on horseback and her joy in riding. As the years wore on, Jane and David became true friends, as unquestionedly necessary to each other as breathing. Jane endured the attempts to teach her all the things a young lady was supposed to know; as long as she had her riding and David's friendship, she put up with it all with a fairly good grace, though she would put her foot down at what she considered unnecessary or impertinent interference with her ways.
She had discovered oil painting at Miss Farner's Select Academy in Bath, and so she even found a London season tolerable because there she could see private collections with paintings by the masters. David came a little faster to adulthood than Jane. He rose to head trainer for the Marquis and he also grew into a very beautiful young man. He had been targeted by a married lady of the ton out for an affaire and he realized that his feelings for Jane were much more than friendship.
In London, Jane attracted the interest of Julian Wrexham, considered the catch of the season, but Jane had no interest in him, or any other man than David. However she knows she would never be permitted to marry David -- because he's illegitimate and she's the daughter of an earl. I think by now Joan Wolf must have done as many books with horses in them as Dick Francis, and I like that though she clearly loves horses, she doesn't anthropomorphize them. In this book she tells her story in a linear, uncomplicated style; she doesn't go in for that flossy, over the top, heavy breathing style of romance writing which is so common these days.
Even fairly common plot twists work well when you just tell the story. Miss Susan Phillips and her younger brother and sister are the children of a wastrel younger son who had fled to America. Since their parents' death they have lived with their Aunt Henrietta. When Sir Peter's invitation arrives, he writes that his friend Lord Carlton, who is at present staying with friends in Virginia, will arrange travel for Susan. Lord Carlton Charles had caught a fever while serving in the Peninsular Campaign, and it happens that he has a recurrence and is unable to visit Susan's family and make arrangements in person, so he sends a weasely solicitor, Mr.
Simmons, with a letter to Susan, with instructions to report back to him. Simmons is offended by Carlton's manner and resolves to make whatever mischief he can. He tells Susan that Carlton is proud and high-handed, and then he tells Carlton that Susan is a wanton, wink wink. When their ship leaves Boston, neither Charles nor Susan is aware of the other's presence on board. Carlton has just been jilted by the English beauty he had offered for; his batman Elliott tells his master that having sex with the pretty serving maid aboard ship will cure his bad mood.
Charles, very drunk, stumbles into a darkened room where Susan has gone to get over her seasickness, and thinks she's the maid. Susan protests at first but is Swept Away. She stops protesting and struggling and allows herself to be taken. When Charles returns to his own cabin, he finds the maid waiting there and he realizes that she wasn't the virgin he just had, and he has no idea who the real girl was.
Susan confides in her new shipboard friend Alicia. She won't tell her uncle and she'll deal with the reaction of whoever she marries when she has to. However, she turns up pregnant, and things just get worse from there. I had big problems with this book. Even before the Swept Away stuff, things were so vague that I was annoyed.
I don't think the book ever said where Susan was living in America, and I found it very odd that Charles could be staying on a plantation in Virginia and nary a mention of slaves or slavery his friend urges him to get a piece of land in Virginia where the folks are real nice - I wondered if that included those nice dark skinned ones who did all the work for nothing. I wondered how many women went to sea as serving maids this is the first I've heard of. I wondered how much of a rocket scientist a man would have to be to discover which young girl among the few passengers on board was the one he raped.
After that it seemed to me one cliche plot element piled on another. The best thing I can say about the book is that the author has a fairly inoffensive prose style. Other than that, if I were stuck on a desert island with this my only book to read -- I'd throw it in the ocean. Richard, Marquis of Lansdon, bored by the London scene, is asked by his relatively penniless best friend Henry Smythe to accompany him on a visit to his home is Suffolk.
Henry is being pressured to marry Miss Fanny Rupper, a wealthy but unappealing local lady, and wants a little protection and company during his visit. As an inducement Henry mentions that Miss Charlotte Tarlock will be there -- Charlotte is an acclaimed beauty and an heiress whom Richard admires.
Richard thinks Charlotte would do very well for his marchioness as does her mother , but there's a problem - there's a family understanding that he will marry his mother's best friend's daughter, 'the most easily forgotten girl I have ever encountered'. Richard saw her once four years ago when she was a plump hoydenish 15 year old and can't even remember her Christian name. This forgettable girl is Lady Victoria Courtney, and she has just learned that her father the Earl has married a woman she's never met. The new Countess of Courtney has a daughter -- Charlotte Tarlock, who is thought to be as good as betrothed to Richard, the man Victoria has secretly loved ever since their disastrous meeting when she was Henry asks Richard for a tiny favor - to meet his actress mistress Anna Semple when she arrives at the local inn.
Henry has promised Anna a country holiday, but he has to return to town on business. Anna meets Victoria en route to her father's and rescues her from a kidnap attempt by a set of rogues who target young girls for sale to brothels. Anna liked her actress life but she always really wanted a husband, home and children, and when she meets an old friend she accepts his proposal immediately.
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When Victoria arrives at Ipswich, Richard meets her and mistakes her for Anna, and Victoria, in a fit of pique, allows Richard's mistake to stand. And that's only the half of it. Or not even the half of it. This book has many threads as the several couples sort themselves out, and at times I felt I should be making notes and drawing lines to keep them all straight. It also requires a certain suspension of disbelief. However it was worth it for the snappy dialog Miss Fanny Rupper's in particular and I wound up liking it.
I think it would appeal to those who like witty turns of phrase and tangled comedy of manners plots, if not so much to those who like a story of deeply felt emotion. Amaris Chantry, a widow, is very grateful to have found an agreeable post at Hawkridge Manor, as companion to the grandmother of Marcus Rothwell, the present Earl. With no family after her mother's death and down to her last shilling in Bath, she had fainted in front of Lady Hawkridge, and had been taken in by that kind but seemingly vague lady. Amy has experience of bad times; she and her mother had lived in the poorhouse.
Amy's only jobs before Lady Hawkridge had been as a servant, although her mother, a lady, had taught her proper manners and breeding. As Amy sits in the library each morning attending to her ladyship's correspondence, she studies a portrait of Marcus hung there. The likeness was painted fourteen years before, just after his accession to the title at about twenty, and radiates remarkable strength and arrogance for such a young man. Amy is fascinated with the painting.
When Marc hears in London that his grandmother has taken in yet another lame duck, in a series of lame ducks out to fleece her, he thinks Amy must be another of that ilk, and he returns to Hawkridge to sort things out. As soon as he sees Amy, he is powerfully attracted to her, and he also realizes that she's frightened of something and she's hiding a secret. As soon as Amy sees Marc, she realizes that the portrait of the young man only hinted at the powerful character of the mature man. Driven distracted by his desire for her, Marc promises himself that he will have her and he will discover her all her secrets.
This book began as an odd mixture of lust and humor which didn't seem to me to flow together well. It's one of those books that has the hero turning aside to hide an erection whenever he encounters the heroine, and after a while that just seems silly. I'm not a complete expert on male anatomy, but I haven't observed that men have that much difficulty controlling their responses indeed, if one goes by TV ads, they have the opposite problem. Amy had real problems - not only was she illegitimate, but she had a living husband who was a criminal. I wish the author had done more with those issues; it feels instead that they were swept aside so we could get to the love scenes and the happy ending.
For me the unreality of that put the book at the mildly enjoyable but easily forgotten level. I know what you mean about the book changing, Janice. I loved the setup of the story, the nutty grandma and the old biddies. I thought I was in for a delightful romp, silly male "troubles" and all.
Then it becomes another type of book that didn't particularly appeal to me. I felt it was two different stories smashed together into one. Such a shame as it had potential to be so much that it isn't. Oh well. They can't all be winners! Miss Georgiana Denbigh lives contentedly in the country with her father, Alistair, a fiftyish widowed country gentleman. Anne Hansen, a pretty army widow of forty.
Georgie's father manages the estate, but he is more interested in working on his botany book. Georgie and Tabby both hope that when Anne agrees to illustrate Alistair's book, a romance will blossom. Georgie's brother Nathaniel, back from the wars and tired of London's matchmaking scene, decides to go home and rusticate for a bit. Nathaniel is accompanied on his visit by his best friend, Lord Chesterton Jason , who is also fleeing matchmaking schemes.
Jason had stayed with the Denbighs ten years ago, and has fond memories of Georgie as an engaging child of eight the 'sweet remembrance' of the title. Georgie hero worshipped Jason in those long ago days, but hasn't seen him since. When they meet again, Jason still thinks of adorable little Georgie as a child, but she's eighteen now, she has the emotions of an adult woman, and she's fallen for Jason. Tabby has her own problems; her vulgar, blustering cit father has no affection for her, and browbeats and belittles her.
He had tried to marry her off in London, but it didn't go well, so he sent her back to the country with Anne. Tabby lives in terror of his return; he makes Anne uncomfortable as well with his pursuit of her. Twickenham hates the country and has neglected his estate, which he has left to the management of a drunken incompetent. After an incident involving the manager's disrespect to Tabby, Twickenham offers Nathaniel a deal -- if Nathaniel will take his unwanted daughter off his hands, Twickenham will give him the estate as her dowry.
This would leave Twickenham free to press Anne to marry him he hasn't taken no for an answer. Tabby is mortified at the offer because she's fallen in love with Nathaniel and for her it would be her dream, if Nathaniel loved her -- but he doesn't. This is a short, fast, sweet read with a certain charm, though it seems to me the author isn't terribly familiar with country life she doesn't seem to know much about horses for instance. There's nothing new here in this story of three couples matching themselves up, but it's told pleasantly enough, if a trifle blandly for my taste.
There's no real villain, except for the disagreeable Mr. Twickenham, but at least there are no spies in it either, which is a relief. Prudence Mallow was well named, or so the joke went. That is, until she met Lord Dammler, the marquis turned poet who had taken the Ton by storm with his verses on swashbuckling and derring-do. Prudence was an author of rather sensible novels, focusing on her restricted middle class life with her eccentric uncle and timid mother - her books were nothing at all like the world traveling Dammler's exotic tales of licentiousness and debauchery.
While Prudence tumbled into love with the marquis on reading his poetry, and even more so on actually meeting his splendid self, Lord Dammler thought her a mouse of a girl and gave her novels away - unread - to his cousin. But he soon learns that there is more to Prudence than he first thought. Her wit and sense of humor capture his attention and the two of them become fast friends. As Prudence becomes a minor success, her person attracts the particular attention of Mr.
Seville, whose enormous fortune makes him acceptable, and the learned Dr. Ashington - much to the dismay of the marquis, who cannot approve of the attentions of either. A lover of the Regency is bound to make the connection between Prudence, Dammler and two well known literary persons of the era. The characters are obviously very loosely based on those of Jane Austen and Lord Byron respectively.
However the personalities of Prudence and Dammler have little in common with either Austen or Byron. The supporting cast of minor characters also deserves mentioning, particularly Uncle Clarence, a minor amateur painter, who's fully convinced he's the best painter of any era, and Cousin Hetta, who creates more mischief than she's aware of. A few lightly sketched historic personages flitter through the story as well. Although the purists will notice a few errors and anachronisms, these are easily overlooked in an otherwise fast paced and well written novel.
I warmly recommend this delightfully amusing book. Diana, Lady Rossley met her husband Richard when he fished her out of the Thames. Her father had blown his brains out, leaving her nothing, and she had no one and nowhere to go, so in a fit of despondency she tried to drown herself. Joy couldn't believe it when her daydreams about Grayson Bennett, political consultant and heartthrob extraordinaire, seemed poised to become reality. When he noticed her—really noticed her. When he gazed at her with the same desire he'd inspired in her for years. But was sweet, small-town Joy a match for arrogant, big-city Gray, ruthless about all things—except opening his heart?
A Good Time. Shannyn Schroeder. Stay the Night. Kate Perry. Looking for You. Playing to Win. Lori Foster. Lost in Love. Give a Little. Project Daddy. Sweet Dreams. Dana Marie Bell. Spider Game. Christine Feehan. Atlantis Series Complete Collection. Gena Showalter. Only In My Dreams.
Not the Marrying Kind. Nicola Marsh. Crave the Night. Lara Adrian. Once Upon a Dream. Viper Game. Let's Misbehave. Bound to Darkness. Keep Me. Fire Bound. Catch Your Breath. A Numbers Game. Tracy Solheim. Sherrilyn Kenyon. Playing for Keeps. Steel Beauty. Rock Hard. Nalini Singh. The Sweet Taste of Sin. Ember Casey. Rock Redemption. Wicked Lies. Lora Leigh. Quarterback Draw. Jaci Burton. Blade to the Keep. Lauren Dane.
Son of No One. Cat's Lair. Falling Under. Goddess with a Blade. Rock Wedding. Blade on the Hunt. Coming Back. Earth Bound. Power Game. The Trouble with Paradise. Annie Seaton. Defy the Dawn. Unexpected Rush. At Blade's Edge. Covert Game. Wild Cat. Holding Strong. Italian Affair. Rock Addiction. Dirty Little Lies. Claimed in Shadows.
Air Bound. Dark Lover.