Felicia Simmons and her family have fallen on hard times. Ever since her mother’s death and her father’s subsequent mental decline, the resourceful and kind young woman has labored intensely to maintain her unusual household. Charitable as can be, Felicia collects stray, socially-outcast servants and insists on feeding poor children. She gives up her place in society, teaches music lessons, economizes, and even polishes her own brass doorknob (though so early in the morning that no one on her fashionable street can see her–except for the cynical Sir Christopher Wilde, newly arrived from India).
“Freddy Tyne’s gone and done it, by damn . . . Took him donkey’s years, but his sticky fingers’ll be lightening my purse from now till lilies bloom in hell” (1).
Playboy Valentine North is horrified when his cousin–who has spent his married life in the wilds of Canada–dies, leaving Val two little savages as wards. There’s no way that he’s going let the little monsters upset his comfortable life, and there is no way he’s going to let some sneaky governess trap him into the Parson’s Mousetrap! So, he concocts an outrageous plan: he’ll disguise himself as his own man of business, hire a house and a governess, and wash his hands of the brats. When his band of comrades wager that Val will be incapable of managing the affair and will end up married within a year, he is even more determined to carry out his plan.
After almost falling prey to a fortune hunter during her first season, Lucy Percy flees to the country-side to escape the scandal. To secure her anonymity, she trades names with her aunt and companion. Now known as “Mrs. Percy,” who tragically lost her husband in the war, Lucy is ready for her peaceful, cottage retreat. Unfortunately, she attracts the ire of her neighbor, Lord Avedon. He suspects her of being a low-bred schemer bent on ensnaring his ward, a witless, wealthy young nephew and Lucy’s landlord. Thus begins a furious campaign: Avedon swears to evict Lucy Percy by any means necessary, and Lucy is equally determined to remain in her cottage and defy her tormentor.
Joanna Patterson and and Lord Sedgewick Wylie are as different as can be. The former is a clumsy, wool-gathering, bespectacled vicar’s daughter with a tendency to stammer when she’s flustered. Sedge is the pinnacle of fashion, and he can make or break a person’s reputation with a sharp word and a critical glace through his quizzing glass. All Joanna wants is to successfully find a suitable husband for her charge, Harriet. If only she could stop colliding with Sedge–literally–and navigate London society without making a complete cake of herself . . .
Hadrian Northmore climbed from the coal mines of Durham to a position of wealth through his business ventures in the East Indies. He provides his youngest brother with the education and means to win a place in Parliament and abolish the dismal conditions that killed the rest of their family. When Hadrian returns to England only to discover that Julian died in a duel, he is devastated. He is also determined to gain custody of his illegitimate nephew. However, Lady Artemis Dearing, who has raised little Lee since her sister and brother’s deaths, is not willing to relinquish him. Faced with eviction from her home, Artemis arranges a marriage of convenience with Hadrian so she can raise Lee herself. Continue reading “Bought: The Penniless Lady”
Miss Claire Yelland is in a tight spot: almost alone in the world, she has few options for employment. Therefore, she turns to the theatre, reinventing herself as the dashing Clairisse Deschampes. She goes to great pains to hide her identity beneath a raven wig and guards her virtue to such an extent that she becomes known as the “Iceberg.” Then, her younger brother gets into a scrape that requires a large sum of money fast. Claire must make an uncomfortable bargain to save him: she agrees to marry the jaded Sir Egon Hollister. Egon wants to thumb his nose at his imperious, matchmaking grandmother by parading a scandalous bride at her house-party. Now, Claire must give the performance of a lifetime: loving newlywed in public, indifferent professional in private–while enduring Sir Egon’s assumption that she is a loose woman . . .
“A most rewarding change from Assembly Room and Marriage Mart. Witty, humorous, concisely written, and far more true to the life of those times than most authors would dare. A bloody good read.”
I am opening a review, once again, with a quote from the back cover. Lady Elizabeth is the twenty-eight year old heroine, who has been left in charge of her multiple younger sisters after her father’s death a year earlier. Ever since, she’s been ensconced in the estate’s Dower House, distracted from her duties by her bizarre and remarkable hobby: astronomy. She has discovered a new comet during her nightly vigils, is in correspondance with the leading astronomers of the day, and is preparing to publish her first scientific article. In short, she is totally “unacceptable” as a woman. Then, the new Lord Clanross arrives. A dour, stiff man with a sharp tongue and a dubious background (the family’s black sheep who was never expected to inherit), Clanross quickly alienates Lady Elizabeth. Meanwhile, the charming Lord Bevis, whom Elizabeth refused to marry five years earlier, arrives on the scene. He still holds a torch for her, all these years later . . . Maybe there is hope that a man will accept Lady Elizabeth, in spite of her unnatural hobby?
The Marquis of Troon has been chafing ever since he returned from fighting on the Continent. Nothing satisfies his lust for action and and the thrill of the fight. To distract himself, he has thrown himself into affairs, pranks, gambling, and high-stakes racing. Now, he realizes that he has to safe-guard his family seat from his radical younger brother. That means marriage and an heir. As one last fling before proposing to his notorious mistress, the Marquis arranges an ultra-dangerous midnight steeplechase with cash prizes. When he jokes that his contenders should make wills, he doesn’t expect anyone to take it seriously. Then, after his runner-up dies from a heart attack, Serle discovers that the man had drawn up a legal document–making the Marquis his daughter’s guardian! Continue reading “Love Climbs In”
Miss Cecilia Cummings is a cunning matchmaker who loves nothing more than to travel from town to town, bringing couples together. Of course, she herself–at the ripe age of twenty-two–has no interest in marriage: she prefers her independence. Then, she is called to Laycombe, which has been in an uproar since the return of Lord Wickham (a determined bachelor after being abandoned by his first wife). Now, the young lads in the neighborhood are falling over themselves to emulate their stylish hero. While the youths drink, gamble, and spend money like water, their love-interests pine away at home. Determined that Laycombe will be her greatest triumph, Cecilia treats her campaign with Lord Wickham like a war.
When the imperious Duke of Strathrannock suddenly summons his eight-year-old, orphaned niece to be raised as his heiress and the future leader of his Clan, her guardian, Fiona Windham, is filled with indignation. How dare the man who had–along with his bigoted father–disinherited her brother-in-law for marrying an Englishwoman try to separate Fiona from her ward?