Love is no game for women; the price is far too high.
Bess Stoughton, waiting woman to the well-connected Lady Allingbourne, has discovered that her father is arranging for her to marry an elderly neighbour. Normally obedient Bess rebels and wrests from her father a year’s grace to find a husband more to her liking.
Edmund Wyard, a taciturn and scarred veteran of England’s campaign in Ireland, is attempting to ignore the pressure from his family to find a suitable wife as he prepares to join the Earl of Leicester’s army in the Netherlands.
Although Bess and Edmund are drawn to each other, they are aware that they can have nothing more than friendship. Bess knows that Edmund’s wealth and family connections place him beyond her reach. And Edmund, with his well-honed sense of duty, has never considered that he could follow his own wishes. Until now.
With England on the brink of war and fear of Catholic plots extending even into Lady Allingbourne’s household, time is running out for both of them.
If you like historical and romantic fiction, then this book is for you.
I’ll admit now that romance isn’t something I would normally read. However I found myself pleasantly surprised with this book.
Set in 1585 amidst a torrid time in English history, we follow the story of Bess Stoughton and her mission to find a new husband. Normally such a story would bore me – however the main character of the story, Bess, is a strong willed young woman who takes risk. Many would perhaps say that is a cliche in the world of romantic fiction, however I found her characterisation completely endearing. She is a woman who knows what she wants, and won’t let anything get in the way. The object of her affection is a young man who would not normally catch the eye of a young woman – be it for his land and his money. But it soon becomes clear that the two cannot be any more than friends…with his mother controlling his marriage and Bess in need of a husband, they need to look elsewhere.
Not that it stays that way, of course.
The story twists and turns throughout the normality of life at the time. Bess is a waiting lady for Lady Allingbourne and we see the day to day activities that such women got up to at the same. But mixed in with that normality is the danger of life at the time, too. England is in the grip of war – not only against the Spanish, but against the Catholics at home as well. There’s always that fear lurking, on every page, that something awful is going to happen. Are there secret Catholics in Lady Allingbourne’s staff? Will the object of Bess’ affection come home from war?
The story moves quickly – Meyrick’s writing style honestly made this book a joy to read. It’s been a good while since I stayed up late to finish reading a book but this one, I just couldn’t put down. Whilst it is set in an era I know little about – there’s a wonderful section on the historical setting at the end of the book – this book was a joy to read. As I’ve already mentioned it’s not my normal cup of tea however I enjoyed it immensely and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in romantic, historical fiction.