Synopsis: Viscount Bradley was the outcast of the family and to get his revenge before he dies, he decreed that in order for his beggared nephews to inherit they must save a “fallen” woman by marrying her. When Clarissa bumps into Jasper Sullivan, he assumes she is a pickpocket and thus the perfect solution to his uncle’s will. What he doesn’t know is that Clarissa is the countrified granddaughter of nobility trying to find her little brother whose guardian means to steal his inheritance any way he can.
Writing Style: For a book that claims to be written about the Georgian period, I found little difference between it and Regency era novels; perhaps society being a little more willing to entertain a courtesan, but still similar to other historicals of different time periods. Jane Feather does have a proclivity to using lesser-known words –at least, relatively unknown to me- such as insouciance, irascibility, and amanuensis.
Point of View: As usually found in historical novels, the book is in third-person but mostly from Clarissa’s perspective and occasionally from Jasper’s. Only once in the entire book is there a short scene from Clarissa’s little brother’s standpoint.
Location: This novel takes place in London; the first half in the Covent Garden district filled with “nunneries” and taverns, the later portion mostly in or near a small house on Half Moon Street where aristocrats keep their mistresses.
Plot: The idea of making-over a lower-class woman into nobility is an old one, most notably My Fair Lady. There have also been stories of evil guardians with charges who hide out or take up demeaning positions in order to escape. So while the tale is by no means unique, it is one that still intrigues as it can be arranged in so many ways.
Character Development: In this novel, the “growth” is somewhat unusual. Clarissa doesn’t change much in personality, but she goes from a good country girl to an aristocrat’s mistress to an Earl’s wife.
Romance: The relationship between the hero and heroine isn’t all that romantic at all. Jasper notices Clarissa’s looks and wants to bed her, but Clarissa doesn’t want to loose her virginity. Jasper pretends to court her for a few days before seducing her, after which they eventually decide they have fallen in love. It seems that the romance of this novel is secondary to the two plots of Lord Bradley and of the guardian.
Quote: Clarissa continued to regard him with all the fascination of a paralyzed rabbit with a fox. She remained in her seat, unsure which of them was mad but certain one of them was.
The Verdict: While not able to boast of the most original of storylines, the novel was difficult to put down nevertheless. I am highly anticipating the remaining two novels of the trilogy for the other two Sullivan brothers, twins.