What could be more important than a lady’s reputation, especially in 1814? I read the author’s previous book, Improper Relations and enjoyed meeting up with Viscount Shadderly and his family once again.
This time the book is written from the point of view of the new steward in Viscount Shadderly’s household, Harry Bishop and Sophie Wallace, a scandalous actress who’s latest lover has found himself in debt and unable to pay his way.
The Viscount Shadderly, or Shad, as he’s known, sends his new steward to settle any debts of his wayward relation and return him to his home. Finding Sophie at a loss and with nothing to her name except for an elaborately carved bed left to her by a previous lover, Harry Bishop is unable to leave without finding temporary accommodation for her. He takes her to his family’s hotel, where she and her bed are ensconced. Then, having enjoyed an unexpected night in Sophie’s bed, he leaves to return to the country and his employers.
Knowing she has to find somewhere to live and work, Sophie calls on her old school friend, Claire, now Countess of Dachault and asks her for help. Claire gives Sophie an introduction to Viscount Shadderly’s home where she hopes Sophie will act as a companion to Shad’s young ward, Amelia, who everyone assumes is actually his daughter. Sophie uses her maiden name and dresses in a far more respectable outfit hoping that no one will realize she’s the same woman who has, up until now, been mentioned in all the gossip columns in the newspapers. She has no idea that Harry works for Lord Shad and he is shocked to see her, especially now that her usually glamorous appearance has changed so much.
Sophie and Harry try to work in the same household as well as possible, but it isn’t easy and when Amelia goes missing, they both go and try to find her.
This book rolls along at a great pace. Harry is in love with Sophie, but he’s a respectable man and has family commitments and never expected to become involved with anyone with such a scandalous reputation. Sophie has secrets as well as a past, she needs to be careful and plan for her future. She feels responsible for the choices that Amelia has made and tries to find a way to help the young woman, whilst hoping her employers don’t discover Sophie's true identity. I loved this story and when it states on the cover that this book is ‘a rollicking Regency tale of manners, mischief, and behaving disgracefully’ it’s not kidding.
You can find Janet Mullany's site here where you can read an excerpt of her book!
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