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Setting: London and environs, 1799
Narration was great, because...Susan Duerden.
Tobias "Thorn" Dautry, the bastard son of the Duke of Villiers, is looking for a wife. He's made his choice, Laetitia Rainsford, a beautiful well-born lady. Now he just needs to get his new country estate in order. Lady Xenobia India St. Clair is the one to do just that. At the recommendation of his step-mother, Thorn hires her to do her magic in decorating, staffing, and organizing Starberry Court.
India, as she is known by family and friends, is smart, beautiful, and talented. Her talent for organization came out of a very disorganized childhood. She is the only child of a probably mad marquis and his wife, who were known for their flakiness. They forgot to pay bills, didn't keep a governess on an ongoing basis, and sometimes even forgot to feed their child. They died in a carriage accident when she was 15 years old, at which time India went to live with her godmother.
We met Thorn in A Duke of Her Own when he was a 12 year old mudlark. He was rescued from that life when his father took him away and installed him in his own. Thorn played a relatively large part in that book, as the Duke of Villiers tracked down all of his offspring. As a bastard, he had no place in society, so he became a man of business, buying and fixing factories. He wants a lady of the nobility as a wife so his children will have more consequence than he has.
This novel shows the growth of both characters over the course of the three weeks India is setting his household to rights, and through the house party to which his intended and her family have been invited. There are letters between the two that are quite amusing, as well as increasingly amorous face-to-face meetings. All of Thorn's plans are complicated by his gaining custody of the five year old daughter of his childhood friend Tom. While Thorn recognizes his friend in Rose, everyone else sees him in her gray eyes. So he has to keep Rose out of sight until he has Laetitia betrothed to him.
This is a most wonderful novel. The main characters are three dimensional and substantial. Thorn is as strong in character as he is physically. India is independent with the strength born of hardship. Laetitia is timid and agreeable, but with a growing sense of self. Laetitia's mother, Lady Rainsford, is a bit shallow, but that is appropriate for her. The plot is believable and compelling. It draws emotion out of you through both action and dialog.
This book is one I shall revisit in the future.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
This was a good listen from start to finish. I hop around from book to book but when I started this book I couldn't stop. I'm listening to 4 different books right now and this was the best one. Well worth the credit, I'm moving on to the next in the series!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful