Christmas Awards 2011

Saturday, 28 February 2009

A Rake's Reform





ISBN 978-0-7090-8469-3.

It was on a beautiful fresh early morning in London, in the year of 1817 when Charles Trent, the fifth Earl of Bythorne, who had just arrived home after a night of somewhat dubious pleasure, was apprised of the fact that his young ward Chloe, had run away again. He was given a note by his nervous Valet. Chloe had apparently run away because she could no longer stand his tyranny and lack of regard for her feelings. The Earl was furious, not only because he desperately needed some rest but also Chloe was beginning to become a real trial to him. He had arranged an advantageous match for her with a wealthy young man named John Wery. Chloe had complained many times about this match, stating that Mr. Wery was a dull clod who spoke only of his farm.

The Earl made enquiries amongst his staff but no one had any idea where Chloe could have fled to. He searched Chloe’s bedroom and after flinging open drawers and cupboards he finally searched her desk where he found a roughly drawn map, but it was of the area where his country house was, Bythorne Park, it seemed to be of no help as surely Chloe would not fly there. But when his Aunt Lavinia joined him , she remembered that Chloe had been very interested in and influenced by a book called ‘Women’s Rights An Apologia’ it was written by a very well known feminists named Hester Blayne. Who apparently lived very near to Bythorne Park in a village called Overcross.

The Earl , on his way to Overcross was not best pleased with the turn of events and determined to give Miss Blayne a piece of his mind if she should be found, to be sheltering Chloe.

Hester Blayne quite unaware of the furious Earl who was about to descend upon her, was happily tending her front garden attached to the cottage which she shared with her former Nurse Miss Larkin, much to the disgust of her brother Sir Barnaby, who like many other men of this era had no time for radical feminist ways. He maintained that Hester should be living in his home, under his protection. That way of life would not suit Hester at all and thanks to her success with her writing ,she was able to be completely self sufficient, even if at times it was difficult and they had to economise.

Seeing a woman working in the garden, as he reigned in his horses, the Earl sprang from his carriage and demanded to see the mistress of the house, mistaking Hester for a servant,.He strode up to her impatient with her apparent indifference to his demands. Hester straitened herself and informed him of his mistake. The Earl was somewhat taken back but he demanded to know if she was Hester Blayne the Feminist. She advised him that she was indeed that lady. Then the Earl demanded that she produce his ward without delay. Hester had no idea what he was talking about and became very angry when he did not believe her.

Shown into the cottage by a very uninviting Hester the Earl told his story, but was soon convinced that Chloe was indeed not in the cottage.

Miss Larkin who had been called into confirm Hester’s story, then rang the bell for tea. When the maid entered the room she immediately blanched and burst into tears. The Earl was furious and demanded to know why his ward was posing as a maid.

After hearing Chloe’s story of the unwanted match with Mr Wery and hearing the way the Earl tried to brow beat his ward, Hester is furious with him and takes Chloe into another room , listening to her quietly but persuading gently her that she must return with her legal guardian to London. Then, showing her a way to turn Mr Wery’s mind away from offering for her. At Last Chloe agrees to leave with the Earl, but is very unhappy about it... Due to a slight accident in the front garden The Earl is obliged to stay the night, he is a very ungracious patient and cannot wait to leave the cottage and Miss Hester Blayne.

Back in London however Chloe is still very defiant with the Earl and he finds himself unable to handle her. Then he decides to ask Hester to come to London to be a companion to Chloe until she has settled down again.

Hester says no at first but when the Earl offers her an enormous amount of money she weakens and agrees to his scheme. Hester has no idea what is to happen in her life in London, she has many challenges to meet there and doubts her own heart many times but with help and good friends will she be able to overcome these challenges. Will love and happiness be hers? Or will Hester Blayne the feminist win the day.

This is a really lovely Regency book and lovers of this genre will not be able to put it down, I hope that I have tempted you to read it, it is well worth while. I award this book five red roses. AS

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