Edward has returned from the wars to take up his duties, but he is a threadbare duke; his predecessors gambled the money away and his estates are impoverished. When he keeps the rendezvous, Cassie tells him of her aunt's plans and he learns a little of the brutal pressure Cassie has endured.
Cassie knows that Edward has no money; she begs him to marry her and solve both their problems -- she will escape being forced into marriage with Dishonorable Devon, and Edward will have the money he needs to restore his estates. He agrees. When her aunt is told that they are to be married, she flies into a rage and throws Cassie out of the house. Edward takes Cassie to his grandmother the Dowager Duchess, a shrewd lady who has long had Lady Gunneston's number, and the marriage takes place immediately. Since Cassie has always loved Edward and Edward has noticed that Cassie cleans up nicely, nothing should stand in the way of their eventually making their bargain marriage into a love match, but there are complications: Edward has a mistress, the dashing widow Lady Chantry; a jewel thief is on the loose; and Cassie herself is forever getting into 'knots' just as she did as a child.
I am very fond of a good marriage of convenience story, whether it has anything new in it or not, but apparently the author didn't think this theme was enough to sustain a book length romance. The whole jewel thief plot is added almost as an afterthought, and there isn't much, if any, preparation for it; once you learn there is a villain, it's no secret who it has to be. I think the author would have done better to stick with her initial story of the growth of a relationship which begins under stress. As it is, it's competently written but nothing special.
During her Season in London, lively Miss Fenella Morland had fallen in with Caro Lamb and her wild crowd, and her godmother Lady Dorton, with whom she is staying, is concerned that Fenella's reputation will be tainted by the association. Fenella agrees to behave more circumspectly, but one evening at Vauxhall Gardens Caro beckons to her and before she knows what's happening, she is involved in an altercation between Byron and Caro and is knocked to the ground. A mysterious masked gentleman rescues her and sends her home safely in his coach.
Fenella would have liked to thank him but she doesn't know his name and hasn't even seen his face.
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Gervase Wakeford, Earl of Huntley, has newly returned, unscathed, from the Peninsular Wars, to take up his responsibilities to family and estates. His mother, Lady Huntley, a supremely self-centered and stupid woman, disdains Gervase she had actually hoped he would die in the wars and dotes upon his younger brother Hereward. Hereward knows his mother has been able to draw upon Gervase's wealth pretty much at will while Gervase was away and has used her preference for him to support his own lifestyle; whenever he wanted money, Hereward would have his mother request funds from the trustee and get it from her.
Now that the trusteeship has expired, Hereward and Lady Huntley both fear that their funding will be much reduced. It was Gervase who rescued Fenella at Vauxhall that night, and he was thoroughly smitten. He wants to marry Fenella, but there are obstacles: his awful mother, his dashing but good-for- nothing brother who has even taken up highway robbery , pressure on Fenella to marry him for advantage, but most of all Fenella's impression of him as kind but dull, stiff and stodgy -- not at all the sort of man she could ever love.
Although this book has superficial similarities to Heyer's The Quiet Gentleman a hero named Gervase who returns unhurt from the wars to a less than kind family welcome , its story takes quite a different path. There's also a nice subsidiary romance between Fenella's Aunt Kitty and Tom Prentice, the man she would have married but for parental interference. Lady Myriah, nearing 21, is in her third Season, and she is bored, bored, bored. Her father Lord Whitney is becoming increasingly insistent that she accept an offer; he's tired of her escapades, including visits to gaming halls and her friendship with Lord Byron.
But Myriah is determined to marry only for love and none of the suitors she has attracted has stirred her at all. When her father catches her kissing a fortune hunter, Lord Roland Keyes, in the garden, he declares her compromised and insists on announcing her betrothal to Keyes that very evening. Myriah sees that he means it so she steals away to the stables, convinces her loyal groom Tabson to saddle up her stallion Silkie, and rides off to her grandfather Lord Guildford in Northiam, with the loyal Tabby accompanying her. En route they come across a wounded young man, William Wimborne; Myriah saves him from bleeding to death and they take him to Wimborne Towers.
Myriah remains for a few days to nurse Billy and to evade her father, who will be hot on her trail. Wimborne Towers is actually the home of Lord Christopher Wimborne, who returns unexpectedly early from London to find Myriah in his bed. Myriah has finally met the man who can stir her senses.
This is an old fashioned romantic adventure, and it is what it is: you have to be prepared to put up with improbabilities, period goofs, extravagant behavior and a marked lack of realism. It was an early book for this author, which may account for all the Cartland style Later in her career the author dropped many of the irritating stylistic mannerisms and got a bit more emotional validity into her characters.
This book is reasonably entertaining if you like this sort of thing, but I don't think it's worth seeking out. When her Oxford don father died, Miss Miranda Russell went to her cousins Thomas and Martha Cavendish, where she served for the next five years as an unpaid governess to their ghastly children. Miranda became so desperate for an alternative that when she read an ad in The Times, "London gentleman seeks governess. Qualified ladies will please respond with fullest particulars", she applied, exaggerating her qualifications somewhat.
She received a civil reply signed Anthony Bartlett, instructing her to meet him at the Knight and Dragon Inn in Horsham. The gentleman who met her was not called Bartlett; he was actually Anthony Barham, Earl of Margrave, and he was not seeking a governess but a young lady to pose as his wife, in order to deflect pursuit by Jeanne, Comtesse de Chavannes, a lady with whom he had enjoyed an agreeable connection while he served in Wellington's Army in France.
This lady believes Anthony would have married her had she not already been encumbered with an elderly husband, but, newly widowed and broke, she intends to nail him now.
Anthony proposes that Miranda pretend to be his wife during the Comtesse's visit to London; afterwards his "wife" will retire to the country due to ill health and eventually pass on. For her services, he will pay Miranda handsomely, furnish her with new clothes and everything she will need to carry off the deception, and help her to establish herself in a new life elsewhere when the imposture is ended.
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Miranda agrees, but she finds it's not as easy as Anthony made it all sound, what with having to fool the Comtesse, Anthony's mother, her own curious maid Cassy, her awful cousins, and Anthony's rumored mistress Mary Ann Stephens, aka Signorina Savino -- while resisting her growing feelings for Anthony. This is a lighthearted comic piece -- I was in the mood for something silly so it worked for me.
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I particularly enjoyed Anthony's deftness at changing the subject or misdirecting attention when it suited him, and I can see why Miranda was attracted to and infuriated by him in equal measure. If you can get past the premise that any earl would ever hire a wife, temporary or otherwise, then all that follows makes some sort of sense.
I thought the plot sounded familiar and indeed I've read this book too! I didn't have any problem with the crazy plot as after all it is a romance and it beats another just as unlikely spy story hands down. But as Janice said, if you buy that then the rest of the book makes perfect sense.
The sad truth is, may impoverished women back in Regency times were caught in this situation of unpaid drudge to a thankless family and no Lord Margrave to the rescue. As to the story itself, I liked it. Anthony was in turns charming and infuriating and still likable enough to fall in love with. Amanda is a strong woman pushed to the limit by her situation and Anthony offers her what she needs the most - escape. Published in the golden age when Regencies were witty and fun rather than hot and steamy.
Miss Rosalind Elliott has reason to be wary of fortune hunters; she is the daughter of a baron, and although at his death the barony went to a distant cousin, Fosswell Manor and substantial invested wealth went to Rosalind, an only child. Currently Rosalind makes her home in Bath with her grandmother, Lady Rotherford. Rosalind loves Lady Rotherford dearly and is happy enough keeping her company and looking after Pip and Popsy, her pet spaniels. The only concern marring their contentment is an old feud between Lady Rotherford and her former best friend, Lady Isildine. At the studio of the artist who has been engaged to paint the dogs, Rosalind meets Captain Philip Chadwell, Lady Isildine's nephew.
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Philip has recently retired from the navy, and as soon as he can settle his aunt in Bath and find a school for his spoiled young half sister Charlotte, he intends to buy a small estate somewhere near the sea, using his considerable prize money. Rosalind believes that her grandmother and Lady Isildine are secretly very unhappy over the old bitter feud, and she convinces Philip to help her bring the old ladies back together.
Their plans necessitate many unobtrusive meetings, and soon both have fallen in love, but Philip has an old scandal in his past, and, since he hasn't flaunted his wealth, rumors arise that he may be just another fortune hunter. This book is a reasonably pleasant fast summer read, with pleasant characters, pleasant events and some low key pleasant humor. In fact, it's a bit too pleasant for my taste; I thought it could have done with a bit more drama and it has several points that might have been explored to add some interest.
I give it a mild recommendation, if you are in the mood for an easygoing, soothing sort of read. ISBN: , , , , , Published by Dell Candlelight, large print edition by Curley. When she was sixteen, Lady Mary Elinor Russell Nell , daughter of the wealthy Duke of Devbridge, was ordered by her father whose health was failing into an arranged marriage with Andrew Merriweather, a younger son of the Earl of Melford. Immediately after the ceremony, which was private, Nell was packed back off to Miss Simpson's Academy and Andrew, considered too wild by his father, was sent off to India.
After her school years, Nell lived quietly in the country with her father until his death, while Andrew made a success in India and seldom, if ever, gave a thought to his bride. Eight years later Andrew had returned to London and was enjoying its many pleasures, still without a thought for his wife.
In the interim his father and elder brother had died in an accident, and Andrew was now Earl of Melford. Nell, however, had decided it was high time she emerged from her country seclusion and took her place as Countess of Melford in London society. Andrew is not best pleased at her sudden appearance in his life, and the couple seek counsel from his aunt Lady Rochdale, who agrees to help them fend off potential gossip. The first move in her plan is that Andrew and Nell be remarried more publicly, so a second ceremony is held at Melford House uniting Nell, who is angry at her husband's neglect, with Andrew, who is annoyed at his wife's temerity at coming to London before he got around to summoning her -- not an auspicious beginning for any relationship.
This is another of those books in the great middle ground, not so badly written that they're unendurable, yet with nothing new or of particular interest in them. Oridnarily I like marriage of convenience stories, in which two very disparate individuals are thrown together and have to create some sort of sustainable emotional bond out of their situation, but this one seemed flat and overly familiar.
I didn't find it emotionally engaging at any point, and I can't recommend it unless you find it lying on a bus seat and there's nothing else to read. This author published this single regency and went on to writing inspirational commentary books; I suspect those have more real feeling in them than this does.
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Helen Denville had grown tired of her situation as a grateful poor relation. But first she would spend ten days visiting her own old governess. Stopping to change coaches, she is to her amazement accosted by a total stranger, who, when she refuses to follow him, makes off with her luggage.
Before she knows it she's thrust into a private parlor where she confronts another stranger, this time apparently a gentleman, who insists on searching through her valise. At first Helen demures but Richard Darcy is a highly persuasive gentleman and she finally consents. Helen's surprise is even greater than his when the opening of the bag doesn't display her own meager wardrobe but the clothes of an unknown woman.
Even stranger is that the clothes could not possibly belong to any of her fellow passengers, yet of a certainty this is the bag handed down to her. That's when Mr. Darcy makes his most startling suggestion yet. Although not without flaw, I liked this story. The denouement is rather contrived, making part of the plot more than a little unconvincing, yet the growing relationship between Helen and Richard makes the story a good read nonetheless.
Cogitations and Meditations
The rural England setting makes a nice change of pace to all the Season in London Regencies out there. Although fairly lighthearted, this is not really a romp. Not a bad book to while away a rainy afternoon. Berenice has fallen for Reginald Goodburn, an Army officer, and they are betrothed. However one day while walking out together, Berenice and Goodwin are met by Clive, Lord Denby, and Denby tells Goodwin in almost so many words that Berenice has been the chere amie of another man.
It is a lie but Goodwin cries off because of it, word spreads and Berenice's reputation is severely damaged. Berenice tells Honoria what Denby did, and Honoria confronts him on the steps of the Old Palace, demanding that he retract his slander; Denby refuses. Honoria departs in a rage, intent on finding some means of revenge, but Denby, impressed by her combination of loyalty and intelligence, decides to court her.
I had a great deal of difficulty finishing this book.
Related The Reluctant Lady, A Traditional Regency Romance (Regency Escapades Book 2)
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