Nov 21 2012
Paula Allardyce has been a favorite author of mine for years. She wrote during the 50s-70s so her style is a bit old fashioned. She also usually clearly spelled out who the villain was early in the story. Another issue is that her books are OOP and haven’t been digitized. Still, if you like books with an older “feel” and are up for the challenge of locating them, give her a shot and see what you think.
Four years ago Emily Stacey was left jilted at the church by the handsome man she was to marry. All that she found waiting there was a letter telling her that the marriage wouldn’t take place. After her father died six months later, having lost all his money in bad investments, Emily left the village and took up employment in London. Now she’s the indispensable housekeeper for the ramshackle Amyas family, quietly doing her job while keeping the mystery of her past to herself.
Saul Amyas has returned from Europe after a number of years abroad and meets up with an old drinking acquaintance for whom he wrote a letter four years ago in an effort to spare the poor bride some of the shame her rogue fiance seemed not to care she would endure when he didn’t show for the wedding. Now he’s headed to his half brother’s London house before going on to his own property. But he arrives to find a mysterious woman who is obviously a lady working as a servant there and is determined to scout out her hidden past. What neither know is that the dastardly former fiance has designs on Saul’s heiress niece and will stop at nothing to see that neither Saul nor Emily stand in his way.
Can they stop him from ruining another poor girl, will Emily be able to forgive the man who is privy to the most humiliating episode of her life and what will they do about their feelings for each other?
This is another one of Allardyce’s books that I read years ago and it has held up well over the years. Allardyce presents a household of family members who sometimes don’t care all that much for each other: a father who prefers to drink himself to ruined health at his club, a silly mother who flutters and gets the vapors and two lost young adults who have to turn to their uncle for advice. You get a clear view of the upper-class London home of the mid 18th century of a family with sometimes more money than sense. And of the few options open to young unmarried women with no fortunes or families. The dialogue might get a teensy bit melodramatic at times but the hero is to die for and the heroine is a woman of strength and resourcefulness. Plus the epilogue is one of the best I’ve ever read.