Ella Fairmont, as the anonymous Miss Prattle, has taken the Duke of Clare to task regularly in her gossip column. The duke, unsuspecting, includes Ella and her aunt in his week-long country houseparty. He has also included the blue-blooded Lady Honor, the strikingly beautiful Miss Sheridan, and the multi-talented Miss Prentiss. How could one “ordinary” young lady with a sharp tongue compete with three sterling debutantes?
Written by: Joan Smith
First published on: 1977
We are given Miss PUELLA FAIRMONT’s story within the first couple of pages of Escapade. Having ‘failed’ to catch a husband in her first Season, ELLA (along with her aunt and grandmother) turns to writing an extremely successful gossip column under the pseudonym “Miss Prattle”.
Her favourite target is His Grace, the DUKE OF CLARE (Patrick) who we first see in action as he starts to offer marriage to the woman he has loved for two years. She turned him down when he was just a younger son but now that he’s the Duke, things are very different.
Realising that he no longer loves her, Patrick walks out (after a very funny conversation about Kant and imperative objectives) and before too long we’re in a “The Bachelor” type situation – with one Duke, three contestants (plus one who doesn’t realise she’s in the running), some frogs and hidden identities to increase the fun.
What did I like about this book?
I liked the way Ms Smith outlays information about the Regency period – if you’re just starting out reading Regencies, then this book will give you lots of information, in a natural manner, about the haut ton and Regency society.
I also liked Patrick’s mother, the Duchess of Clare – she is a classic bookworm and as one myself, I really related to her character.
The wit and humour in the book are also very well done and I really enjoyed the fact the portrayal of positive female relationships as well as Patrick’s ‘Miss Prattle related’ antics. (I won’t say anything more as it would be a bit of a spoiler but they are funny and poignant).
What did I not like about this book?
Both Patrick and Ella were lovely and I really related to their characters – the way they behaved seem very plausible (in a romance novel sense!) and I really enjoyed their witty interactions.
There was some confusion over names – I’m not sure why Ms Smith occasionally referred to Lady Honor as Miss Sedgley (poor editing perhaps?) but it did confuse and irritate me.
That’s my only niggle though!
How did I feel at the end?
That’s really the important thing isn’t it? Did I feel the HEA was right? Did I feel happy or disappointed by the misunderstandings? Was I left with a warm and fuzzy feeling or wishing I could get my money back?
HEA – yes I felt this was right. It wasn’t rushed and I really enjoyed the way Patrick required assistance from his mother to assist in his marriage proposal.
Misunderstandings – for a traditional Regency novel they were perfectly acceptable and actually did make sense given the way Ms Smith had portrayed the characters.
At the end I felt very pleased at how the story had worked out. It’s a book I’ve re-read many times and unlike other books, there’s no part I miss – I re-read every line every time.