Three Regency Lords – one cannot court Elizabeth while his ward is infatuated with her young brother; one, missing after Waterloo, leaves a devastated fiancée and a cousin with his importunate family; the third, exiled for years, dead in India and impersonated by his bastard half-brother hoping to gain his fortune and an heiress bride. Will they obtain their just rewards?
LORD CLIFFORD'S DILEMMA
In Brighton, when his young ward, Annamarie, becomes infatuated with Henry, Elizabeth's young brother, her guardian, Crispin, Lord Clifford, refuses to countenance such an engagement. Elizabeth is also against it while she controls Henry's fortune. Crispin tells Elizabeth that from the age of thirteen, Annamarie has been infatuated with unsuitable men. When she begins to attract older men he fears her fancy will alight on one of the Prince Regent's friends. He takes Annamarie to London, hoping she will lose interest in both them and Henry. He is attracted to Elizabeth, but she is still smarting from being jilted when she was seventeen. Then Annamarie insists she loves Crispin, not Henry. Lord Clifford is appalled. If he now marries Elizabeth how would Annamarie react? She can be violent and uncontrolled, Elizabeth would be in danger.
I wanted to set a novel in Brighton, but I also used Elizabeth's schools and her defence of popular novels, plus her disillusionment with her former fiancé Sir Percy, as background for this story.
MY LORD TREMAINE
When their father dies Elinor and Jane Darwen are left with very little money, but Jane is betrothed to Edmund, Viscount Tremaine, and wealthy. Then Napoleon escapes from Elba and Edmund returns to his regiment in Belgium, while his bailiff lets the girls and their old nurse live in an estate cottage. Elizabeth bakes bread and pies and Jane sews nightcaps to sell in the village shops, and Mattie does laundry to earn money. After the battle news arrives of Edmund's death. His cousin William inherits the title, and comes to Tremaine Court in Devon with his mother and sister Amelia, while Edmund's mother goes to live with a sister in Truro. Jane soon entices William into marriage, despite the opposition of his mother, who has a different bride in mind for him.
Meanwhile Gervaas, a Belgian peasant helping to bury the dead after Waterloo, finds a live body and hopes to gain a reward by caring for him. Unfortunately the man has lost his memory, and doesn't even know his nationality.
Author Note: Much has been written about the battle of Waterloo, less about the aftermath and the effects on survivors and families as well as the bereaved.
AN EARL FROM INDIA
When his half-brother is injured and dies, Silas, illegitimate, determines to take his place and go back to England to claim John's inheritance. They are almost the same age and look alike. Silas discovers the Shropshire estate is almost derelict, due to debts and other problems he and John left behind twenty years ago when they were banished to India. His aunt, Lady Charlotte, and cousins Lucien and Amanda, are unwelcoming.
Amanda and Fanny, an heiress Silas met on the boat, become friends in London when Amanda is being brought out, though Fanny is barred from the ton parties. Silas wants Fanny's fortune, even though she detests him, while Amanda falls in love with her brother Gerard, who runs the family trading business. Neither marriage is suitable, as both are Cits.
Author Note: I have known Shropshire since I was a child, and recently lived there for several years. The Priory, though, is totally imaginary, there is no such house in the county. I was intrigued by the social conventions of who might be suitable marriage partners. A wealthy girl from the business community might attract an offer from a titled man, but it didn't work in the same way for a business man and a girl from the upper reaches of Society.