I've wanted to try Jane Feather for a while. I bought this one as an impulse buy one evening at Target. It is a reprint of an older novel, so it is noI've wanted to try Jane Feather for a while. I bought this one as an impulse buy one evening at Target. It is a reprint of an older novel, so it is not available as an ebook.
Lord Damian Rutherford, is an heir to a dukedom, a son to one of the most powerful families in London. However, he is a multi faceted character. As a wounded soldier in the Peninsula War, Rutherford is bored and moody. He inherits a crumbling estate in the wilds of Cornwall from a slothish cousin. Needing a distraction from the tedium of his life, Rutherford heads to Cornwall. He definitely finds a most amusing and complex distraction in the form of a young widow named Meredith (Merrie), Lady Blake or as some refer to her with her maiden name, Merrie Trelawney.
Merrie is widowed and left with a huge debt her husband had left, a native Cornish woman, she followed her father's wishes and married where he desired. Only to have her husband go through her dowery and inheritance on a lavish lifestyle and his penchant for gambling tables. Here is where the multi facet part of Merrie comes in. She could be called a great actress because she plays so many roles. A young empty headed tittering widow, guardian to her three younger brothers, estate manager, head of her household, and a smuggler. Yes, I said smuggler. I have not read a historical romance where the heroine was a smuggler, but because Merrie is smart, she is not only a smuggler for her town, but the leader of a band of men who help her pull off these quests under the nose of the revenue (coast guard).
One thing I loved about this novel was the all encompassing story. Some times I wish some novels would give a better picture of every day life and character interaction. I definitely received that while reading this book. Rutherford is smart as well and figures out that Merrie puts on many faces for society. The two start a friendship, at Rutherford's insistence.
One thing that I could have used less of, but did not really detract from the story was the constant games that Merrie played that included Rutherford. She cast him in a role as friend and advisor to her younger brothers. While he did not mind doing this, she kept perpetuating one of her "faces" while bringing him into the mix, just because there was eventual gossip between the two.
What started out as friendship, slowly blossoms into love. The two agree to a secret liason and met under the cover of night to share their passion. There are 4 or 5 love scenes in this book, but they are not detailed, not glossed over, but just right to not detract from the story line.
I felt bad for Rutherford because even though Merrie loved him, in her mind she felt she was unworthy to marry him. Even though he professed love and asked for her hand several times, all with the same outcome. I then began to wonder if maybe he was a glutton for punishment. Although, the romantic in me cheered on his persistence. He decided that two could play games and engages Merrie to come to London with him for a few months as his mistress only. She readily accepts and the two set off for London. Soliciting his family's help, Rutherford makes Merrie's time in London a smashing success, and she is the new "it" girl. I didn't like the fact that he had to employ them both in another game, but I respect that fact that he was trying to show her that despite what she may think about their unsuitability in marriage, they were indeed perfect for each other. Rutherford really did love her adventurous spirit, strong personality, and stubborn ways.
Eventually, love and a little danger bring on an HEA for the two. This is one statisfying read and I do recommend it. I look forward to more historical romances from Feather....more