Daphne Ingleside’s visit to her Aunt Effie in London was meant to add a little spark to her placid country life. And it did—once the two women decided to write Effie’s memoirs. For Effie, a faded divorcée, had been the beauty of London in her day, and many of the ton feared their misbehavior would be disclosed. The Duke of St. Felix, misinterpreting their project as a means of blackmailing his family, antagonized the sharp-witted, beautiful Daphne to his peril.
Written by: Joan Smith
First published: 1979
A very interesting plot in this book.
We first meet Daphne as she prepares to go to London to spend 3 months with her Aunt Effie. Aunt Effie has been the ‘Black Ewe’ of the family having been divorced by her husband many years ago. Living now in genteel poverty, Effie decides to write her memoirs, assisted by Daphne.
It takes a bit longer for us to meet Duke of St Felix, Richard but we eventually learn that “he was very tyrannical, of course, and insisted that you follow his orders to the letter; but…he was [also] very efficient…”
And so the scene is set for a battle of wills between Daphne and Richard.
So that sounds pretty standard I know, but there’s more to the plot than the standard battle of wills. There’s commentary on the life of a divorced woman in the Regency period; a frank depiction of the Prince Regent and his mistresses and a small side story about Aunt Effie and her former husband.
Over all though it is the writing that makes this book one of my favourites with gems like:
Miss Ingleside was found to be charming, and as no one was rude to her, she got through the night without saying a sharp word to anyone
What did I like about this book?
Daphne is a nice strong heroine. Intelligent with self-determination and the will to get things done.
The witty conversations between Daphne and Richard as each tries to get the upper hand in this pretend blackmail scheme. If you’ve read Faro’s Daughter by Georgette Heyer then you may sense some similarities in the conversations.
There’s lots of historical information about the Prince Regent and life in that particular period, told in a very natural manner.
What didn’t I like about this book?
The long delay in creating the romance. There’s more about the so-called blackmailing scheme as it unfolds than about Richard and Daphne learning about their feelings. We’re left to infer these through the fact they fight with each other every time they see each other.
But that’s really about it!
But 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 conversations between Daphne and Richard leading up to the proposal and afterwards as well.
Misunderstandings – these were actually overcome almost near the start of the book, so they didn’t upset me too much.