When a runaway heiress runs into trouble, she may end up exactly where she belongs…
Brainy and college-educated, American heiress Alexandra Atherton will do anything to avoid marriage to the English peer her mother has chosen for her—even abandon the life of privilege she's always known. But as her escape goes horribly wrong, Alexandra must invent a new identity to gain the help of a handsome stranger.
Thomas Carlyle, the Earl of Longford, sweeps in and out of London disguised as a humble artist, earning just enough to keep his ancestral Cornwall estate afloat. When Alexandra crashes into his life, she awakens feelings and desires that he vows will stay buried. Despite himself, he needs this beautiful newcomer, for his sisters have run off another governess.
Alexandra is surprised to find she thrives in her new position at Longford's home. But as she grows closer to Thomas and his sisters, and her relationship with the emotionally guarded earl unleashes their hidden passions, the truth Alexandra's been forced to hide may end up coming between her and the only man she's ever loved.
Syrie James is the USA TODAY and Amazon bestselling author of thirteen novels of historical, contemporary, and young adult fiction and romance, which have been published in 21 languages.
Los Angeles Magazine dubbed Syrie the “queen of nineteenth century re-imaginings.” Syrie’s novel “The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen” sold at auction to HarperCollins in a bidding war and became an international bestseller. Her passion for love stories and the paranormal led to her critically acclaimed and award-winning novels “Dracula, My Love,” “Nocturne,” and the popular YA series “Forbidden.” Her love of English historical romance led to her Amazon bestselling Dare to Defy series.
Syrie’s books have won numerous accolades and awards, including the national Audiobook Audie Award for Romance, and the Great Group Read by the Women’s National Book Association (“The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte”); Best New Fiction by Regency World Magazine ( “The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen”); Barnes and Noble’s Romantic Read of the Week and Bookbub’s Best Snowbound Romance (“Nocturne”). Her novels have received starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, hit many Best of the Year lists, and been designated as Library Journal Editor’s Picks of the Year.
Syrie is also an award-winning screenwriter and WGA member who has sold or optioned numerous scripts to film and television. Syrie's successful adaptations of books to screen include the movie based on Danielle Steele’s bestseller “Once in a Lifetime."
In demand as a speaker across the U.S., Syrie is also a playwright whose work has been produced in New York City, California, and Canada.
Syrie James is a gifted historical fiction author. In Runaway Heiress, the first in her Dare to Defy series, she turns her hand to historical romance, crafting an engaging story that manages to simmer with heat at the same time it honors Victorian history and tradition. I adored her depiction of Cornwall and her gorgeous details about life as an 1880s governess in a remote country house. The scenes with the heroine, Alexandra Atherton, and the hero's sisters were some of my favorites. I loved how Alexandra drew them out of themselves and helped them to find joy and purpose.
This is an American heiress meets impoverished nobleman story, but it's unique in its location and execution. It was a pleasure to read. I'm so glad there are more books in the series for me to enjoy!
Runaway Heiress is a Brontë-inspired romance that combines the best of the secret identity and master/servant tropes.
If you had asked me, prior to reading Syrie James’s first romance novel, whether or not I particularly liked books about wealthy American heiress hiding their identity or Victorian governesses-turned-countesses, I probably would have said no. However, I read the back copy for Runaway Heiress and was instantly intrigued, and lucky for me the book itself lived up to the promise of its blurb. I certainly hope that this won’t be the last romance series James writes!
The plot here is pretty self-explanatory (just read the title). Alexandra is a wealthy, opinionated American woman who was dragged away from Vassar to come and catch a titled husband. The man her mother picks out for her is gross, so Alexandra runs away. Unfortunately, her purse gets stolen, so she’s left in London with nowhere to go except crawling back to her overambitious mother. Luckily, Alexandra runs into Thomas, a shabby painter. Alexandra pretends to be a poor American maid whose employer made inappropriate advances. Thomas eventually hires Alexandra as a governess to his difficult younger sisters. Thomas, it turns out, is actually an earl. Surprise! But Alexandra decides to keep her own identity a secret, for reasons.
Romancey stuffs ensue.
If I were actually to characterize this novel, I’d describe it as a book where an enterprising young woman helps renovate her hero’s life and family, and where a man realizes how lucky he truly is. It’s a nice sort of plot, and I think James does it very well. I would characterize Runaway Heiress as a slow-burn romance, and comparisons to Jane Eyre are not out of place—except that Thomas is far less grouchy and he doesn’t have a crazy attic wife.
I really appreciated, also, how Alexandra’s “Americanness” was utilized throughout the book, especially because she’s college-educated. James doesn’t just pay lip-service to this idea that as an American, Alexandra is brash and headstrong. Rather, I think she carefully contrasts the ideologies of New York’s new money with the stodgy British aristocracy. In her capacity as a governess, Alexandra brings new opinions about educating girls, and about raising children in general, to Thomas’s Cornish estate, and it felt very real.
The focus on family was great in this book as well. Because Runaway Heiress is a slower-paced romance, the author had more time to develop things outside the protagonists’ relationship. Thomas’s younger sisters, for instance, are fully-developed secondary characters whose stories I became invested in as well. The girls aren’t just there for ornamentation—they serve a role in Thomas’s character arc and also have growth of their own.
If there were any complaints I had, I think they were regarding the final few chapters. When a romance reaches the point where the characters decide to do their level best to live together forever, all the conflict is resolved. That’s the point where the book should end, barring a brief epilogue or somesuch. However, the book’s one and only sex scene comes after the HEA has already been accomplished, when it no longer felt relevant or necessary. If you’re going to have sex in your romance, it shouldn't just be filler or as a “treat” for readers at the end—all parts of a novel, including sex scenes, should be serving a purpose. At this point, there was no reason for such a chapter, because Alexandra and Thomas had already decided to be together. I also point this out because in addition to the extra chapter with the sex scene, there was also an epilogue intended to resolve a minor plot thread. As I said, authors should close the novel quickly after the conflict is resolved, otherwise things start to feel superfluous.
Yet all in all, I thought Runaway Heiress was well-written and fun. James had a good handle on character development and on writing a story that didn’t myopically focus on her protagonists. I feel this is a well-rounded novel with everything I could have asked for, and I appreciated the more unique aspects of the plot. This book is the perfect combination of a “Princess in Disguise” story and a Jane Eyre homage. I’m very happy to have read it.
I am a fan of Syrie James’ work. Was excited for this first in a series of American heiresses in Victorian England. James skillfully builds tension and introduces her likeable characters. The story picked up significantly once we moved on to the country and estate where James created a fast-paced 'romp' through a historical Romance. I loved it! Swoonworthy romantic hero and completely entertaining. Look forward to the rest in the series.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I’ll read whatever Syrie James writes. After adoring her biographical fiction novels about Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë, I did not hesitate to read her two vampire-inspired novels, even though vampires were not (and are still not) my thing! And wow, did I love those epic and passionate tales! Now once again, Ms. James is bringing me into new territory – a Victorian-era romance set against the fascinating backdrop of England during the late 1880s! A time where titled aristocrats with crumbling family estates were bankrupt and happily marrying American heiresses eager to join the aristocracy.
In this first installment of this series readers meet Alexandra Atherton who is running away from her mother and trying to get back home to America. It appears Alexandra’s ambitious and social-climbing mother has accepted a marriage proposal on her behalf to a detestable and disgusting Viscount. But Alexandra’s flight does not go as planned and after a series of unfortunate mishaps she is left without belongings or funds and at the mercy of strangers. She does not have any money for a ticket home, but Alexandra is determined to do what it takes to avoid her mother’s domineering machinations even if it means practicing deception and using a false name… But it appears that Alexandra isn’t the only one who is deceiving others…Alexandra’s rescuer, Thomas Carlyle, a lowly but talented artist has some secrets as well…such as the fact that he is an impoverished earl that paints portraits to support his ancestral home. In an effort to help each other, Alexandra accepts a temporary position as a governess to Thomas’s two sisters (who apparently have scared off several governesses before) to earn money for her ticket home. The only problem is…Alexandra is not a governess and has little experience being one! Can she keep up the deception? Should she reveal to Thomas who she really is when they start to establish a closer relationship? What happens when the truth comes out?
Oh! What a riveting romantic adventure! I absolutely adored our hero and heroine in this tale! From the very first page I was hooked in and fully entranced by their stories! I love how outspoken and fearless Alexandra is – even when she is acting as a governess, she isn’t afraid to speak up and ask for better books and meals for her charges. And I greatly enjoyed her relationships with Thomas’s sisters and the reading material she encouraged them to enjoy (Jane Eyre and Jane Austen fans will be pleasantly surprised!)! Furthermore, I took pleasure in our mysterious and broody earl, and I enjoyed discovering what events from his past and upbringing made him that way. However, what truly was the best was seeing these two characters share moments together – their intoxicating chemistry, their mesmerizing attraction, and the consuming fire that burns brightly when they are together. It was sublime!
In addition, I loved the setting and historical backdrop of this story. I loved learning about this time period and understanding the social and economic struggles of this time. I’m sure there were many overly ambitious mothers like Mrs. Atherton who would sacrifice their daughter’s happiness for a chance to become one of “Mrs. Astor’s 400.” And whether due to the shift towards industrialization or the negligence of previous generations, I’m sure there were many estate owners facing the same struggles the Earl of Langford faced. I loved how Ms. James not only chose to write in such an interesting time period, but also interwove the challenges and changes of this time so seamlessly into her story.
With her new release, Runaway Heiress, Syrie James delivers a compelling and exhilarating romantic adventure that is sure to charm and engage readers and lovers of historical romance, full of simmering chemistry and wonderful homages to Austen and the Brontës. I could not put it down!
Note: Recommended for Mature Audiences due to the inclusion of a few intimate scenes and descriptions.
When “Dollar Princess” Alexandra Atherton dares to defy her scheming mother’s plan to marry her off to a foppish British peer, she decides that her only chance at freedom is a total break from the restrictive confines of her privileged life, becoming a runaway heiress. Her ill-thought-out escape from London goes terribly wrong at every turn until she meets a handsome young man, Thomas Carlyle, who hires her as governess to his younger sisters. Unbeknownst to each other, they are both living double lives – she to facilitate her freedom – he to support his crumbling estate in Cornwall. What started as a business arrangement gradually evolves into something that neither expected.
Being a big fan of romance stories set in 19th-century England featuring young ladies who defy social strictures, I was immediately attracted to the smart, unrepentant, and brave heroine, Lexie. Having the story set in Cornwall was also a plus for me and I enjoyed the lush descriptions of the manor house and gardens in which she resides with Lord Carlyle and his sisters. While the attraction of the hero and heroine was immediate, their romance simmered, growing into the most satisfying aspect of this delightful romance. I am happy to recommend it to those of you who crave a happily-ever-after escape. Resplendent with charm, romance and surprises, fans of Downton Abbey and Jane Austen will be enchanted.
I'm slowly trying to catch up some of my ARCs that I have and this is one of them. I have to say, I am sorry I didn't read this sooner. I really enjoyed Syrie James's writing. I'll be looking for more from her.
Alexandra was just the best! I loved her attempt at being a governess to Thomas's younger sisters. And Thomas. He was wonderfully secretive and a great hero.
What's a girl to do when she doesn't want to be married to the vile man her mother will force her to wed ? Well this girl choose to escape. Unfortunately for this American heiress, trouble seem to follow her everywhere and before she can board the train direction her home country, she's robbed, assailed and almost trampled on.
When the Earl of Longford find a stranger passed out on the road he cannot let her there and bring her to the boardinghouse he's currently living. They'll both play a role; Thomas pretending to be an impoverished artist while she'll let him believe she's the working girl he assumed her to be. Alexandra needs money to pay for her travel to Liverpool and Thomas need someone to take care of his sisters so that's why she'll accept a temporary post as a governess for the two young ladies and how she'll learn the truth about his real identity. It's not too long before the attraction and desire arise between Alexandra and Thomas but the Earl stand by his principles and one of them is to keep his hands off the serving staff. But the real issue is how will he react when he'll finally learn that Alexandra lied to him.
So this book was a pleasant read but I can't explain why I didn't enjoy it more than that because all the elements of a good historical romance were there. The characters were nice, I like the governess trope and it's great how Alexandra's presence in Thomas's life also benefits his sisters. The only reason I can find is that maybe it all felt too proper for me, but that's still strange because the heroine was bold enough. So I'll put it on being one of life's mysteries; we can't always understand why a book work for us or why it didn't ;p
I’ve enjoyed historical fiction novels from Syrie James in the past and was delighted to have a chance to review her new historical romance, Runaway Heiress. Runaway Heiress is a Victorian historical romance involving the American invasion of heiresses to England trying to snag a titled husband. Think Cora from Downton Abbey or all the ladies in The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton.
Alexandra Atherton has attended college in America and wants an independent life full of learning. Her mother has other plans and has brought her to England to use her father’s wealth to lure a titled husband. This will help the family social standing in America. Alexandra is horrified when the suiter her mother has chosen tries to have his way with her in the garden. She runs off to try to return to America to live her own independent life. During her escape, her money is stolen, and she is left alone and penniless. Help from some kind strangers allows her to grasp a new opportunity and become the governess to Thomas Carlyle, a handsome artist with two younger sisters. Their governess has just left Mr. Carlyle in a bind and he quickly hires Alexandra.
Alexandra may be posing as a governess, but Mr. Carlyle is really, Thomas Carlyle, Earl of Longford. When Alexandra arrives at his estate, she is stunned. Thomas is earning money as a portrait artist to try to support his family and crumbling estate after his late father and grandfather squandered away the family inheritance. Working for money is not done by an aristocrat so Thomas must hide his work and identity.
Alexandra learns to loves Thomas’s sisters, Julia and Lillie and becomes quite a good governess. She also falls in love with Thomas and they have a charged atmosphere between them. But when the truth comes out about Alexandra’s identity, will Thomas be able to put aside his prejudices against wealthy American heiresses to find true love?
I loved this novel. I loved the gentle nods to one of my favorite all time Victorian novels, Jane Eyre with Alexandra’s work as a governess and love of the novel. The chemistry between Alexandra and Thomas fairly leapt off the page – I loved their romance. I especially loved that Alexandra was an independent woman who was not going to settle as her mother wanted her too but was working towards finding her own path in life. I loved her relationship with Julia and Lillie. The next two books in this series follow Alexandra’s sisters, but I hope that Julia and Lillie eventually get their own story as well.
Favorite Quote: “’Resentment and hatred are wounds that only fester as time goes by’ she pointed out gently, ‘but they can be healed by forgiveness.’
Overall, Runaway Heiress is a well written Victorian romance with a strong independent heroine and great chemistry between the leads. Jane Eyre and romance fans should take note.
Book Source: Review Copy from Avon and author Syrie James. Thank-you!
As I read more historical romance, I'm starting to discover elements that I like. For instance, I realized that I love a good hidden identity romance. Not all that surprising since I also enjoy that in contemporary romance. I'm also loving a governess heroine. Again, not surprising since Jane Eyre is my absolute favorite classic romance. Put those two together and apparently I'm as happy as a clam.
I enjoyed Runaway Heiress. It was a fun and light historical romance with lovable characters, witty banter, and enough sexual tension to make my day. The tension between Alexandra and Thomas was electric. I loved watching her standing firm in her beliefs and refusing to back down to anyone. Thomas soon finds himself drawn to her passion and excitement in a way he's never experienced before. The moments where they both let their guards down and act on that attraction... Um, yes please.
There were two elements in Runaway Heiress that I loved. The first was Lexie as the governess. I loved the scenes with her, Julia, and Lillie. Lexie getting to know the girls and watching them come out of their shells was adorable. The second element was seeing how the lack of funds truly affected Thomas and his tenants. I feel like that is something that is often alluded to in historical romances, but it's something I've never scene play out in such detail. So I enjoyed seeing how much they depended on Thomas for their livelihoods and well-being. It helped me understand the period a bit more.
Overall, I thought Runaway Heiress was a fun romance and I'm curious to see how the series plays out. Will it follow Alexandra's sisters? Or will Thomas's friend be the next hero? I can't wait to find out.
I received an advance copy. All opinions are my own.
3.5 stars. To enjoyed my reading, I had to ignore certains things that didn't work for me. (Alexandra is too progressive for the time, (even if I approve) or the fact that sometimes I felt like I was drowing in words and had difficulties to stay concentrated.
What I liked is that the MC met very fast. Both are not what they say they are but Thomas will soon open himself to Alexandra who's not going to do the same thing for him. But both will developped feelings for the other.
"I am American, [...] but don't worry it's not contagious."
That's the story of a woman who will put happiness back in a man's life. She will changed his family dynamic, (I liked Alexandra's friendship with Julia and Lillie (Thomas's sister)) his relationship with his neighbors and she will bring him to enjoyed painting again. Thomas was not a bad person but he lost his ways and they only thing he had to guide him was what he thought was proper.
As a huge fan of Syrie James' novels, I knew I had to try her new venture into historical romance. I wasn't disappointed. This was a fun, fast-paced and flirty romance with sizzle.
The heroine, Alexandra Atherton, is a feisty American heiress that her mother insists must marry a titled Englishman. Her mother's choice is abhorrent to her, so what does she decide to do? Run back home! As it turns out, it was harder than she imagined and 'Murphy's Law' came into play.
But who wouldn't want to be rescued by the ever charming and talented Thomas Carlyle who is keeping his own secrets? Let's just say that 'Lexie' drives a hard bargain, and soon she and Thomas are off on an adventure they never saw coming!
I absolutely loved Runaway Heiress. I found it had more depth than many other romance novels. When I first started reading, the story moved fast and was very engaging. Lord Carlyle’s personification reminded me of Mr. Darcy at the end of Pride & Prejudice—very loving and romantic. I was also so happy with the book that I didn’t even need an epilogue ☺ Truly! The story was also refreshing in that I hadn’t read a storyline like it before, and I have read a lot of romance novels! Lastly, the author, Syrie James, did a great job of setting up the next book about Lord C’s sisters and Lexi’s sisters. I can’t wait to read Lillie’s story. Her character was intriguing and very touching.
I know that I’ve mentioned multiple times how much I love runaway heiress/hidden identity novels, but oh-my-gosh I love them and I want to scream it from the rooftops. Runaway Heiress by Syrie James is no exception to that rule. In fact, it’s even better because both the hero and the heroine are operating under a case of hidden identity. That might be the first time I’ve read a runaway heiress story with that unique of a premise.
Sometimes in historical romance novels the women are timid and naïve, a consequence of the time period obviously, but I do so prefer brave heroines who know what they want—or don’t want—and reach out and take it. Alexandra is that heroine. Not to mention she’s amazing with the children she’s tasked to educate and that made me adore her even more! I found the fact that she was an American heiress to be a unique twist on what can sometimes come off as a been there-done that a million times story.
Thomas Carlyle was an interesting hero. For one, I don’t recall ever reading about a hero in a historical romance wearing glasses—alright, so they’re fake, but still! That’s sexy. Maybe I’m biased because I wear glasses and want everyone to think they’re sexy. I don’t know. Let’s move on. Watching Thomas move from indifferent to his sisters to actually enjoying being in their company was something special. I positively adore children in romance novels because they bring such humor to the storyline.
Runaway Heiress has drama. So, if that’s your thing: perfect! There’s attempted kidnappings, there’s—obviously—mistake identities, there’s making out in dark hallways, there’s beautiful paintings, and there’s big, decrepit manors. All in all, it’s a wonderful read that I was sorry to see end. I eagerly await the rest of this series! You can purchase Runaway Heiress now.
Runaway Heiress Syrie James is the First book in the Dare to Defy series. This is the story of Alexandra Atherton and Thomas Carlyle, the Earl of Longford. Alexandra is a smart women who knows she doesn't want to marry the man her mother has picked out for her. So she goes off on her own assuming another identity and ends up being a governess of sorts to Thomas's sisters. Thomas too has his secrets but what they both can't keep secret for long is how they feel about the other! This was a fun and easy read!! Really enjoyed it!
I'm picky when it comes to Historical novels. I don't read many of them, but I wanted to read this one because it was different than most out there--not strictly Regency, and a bit of adventure thrown in, with Historical accuracy an important factor in making the story work. I enjoyed the foray into the whole Americans going to England to marry a title and the English nobles needing the heiresses to fix up their estates. I had seen a documentary about this not too long ago, so it was fun to read a novel that covered it. Syrie's attention to detail, language, and the nobility's sense of duty is evident, along with familiar American historical details. It's a nice mix and I enjoyed it. I plan to read the next one in the series!
American heiress Alexandra Atheron is running away from the marriage her mother has planned for her, to a horrible Englishman, when she's robbed and struck by a carriage. Thomas Carlyle stops to help her. He's appears to be a struggling artist, but is actually a penniless earl trying to raise his family's fortune through his painting. When Alexandra lies and says she's a teacher, he hires her as governess to his young sisters and takes her to his country home.
Good Read I read The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen by Syrie James, which was my first read written by her and which I enjoyed very much and thought I'd try another. I enjoyed this one as well. A good hist-fic romance. I recommend if you like this genre.