REVIEW: The Swynden Necklace by Mira Stables
She only knew that she was his to command; that her body thrilled to his lightest touch, her heart leapt at his smile; and that he was not for her.
Honor Fenton was lovely, but penniless. There seemed to be little in her future but spinster-hood. Then one day she received an unexpected legacy—the fabulous Swynden necklace.
Not long after this she was rescued from an unpleasant street incident by a dashing young stranger. When Honor learned that the stranger, Mr. Jocelyn, was the agent of a certain Marquess who wanted to purchase the necklace she was very disturbed.
She did not know quite what to make of the mysterious Mr. Jocelyn. At first she was furious. Partly because she was attracted to him—and partly because she felt he was only interested in the jewels.
Then someone discovered the truth about the Swynden necklace
This is another oldie goldie from way back when. I think I first read it about 40 years ago and adored it. Then came college and adulthood, jobs and moves and I didn’t think about it until I saw that Endeavour Press had re-released it. Of course I bought a digital copy but fear of the Suck Fairy kept it on my e-reader but not on my reading schedule. Would it hold up or would a beloved favorite bite the dust? Well, let’s see ….
Honor (Honoria) Fenton is astonished when she is bequeathed a dainty diamond necklace from her godmother. Though she was named for this lady, a sort of cousin of her mother’s, there wasn’t much communication between the families after Honoria made the “marriage match of the year” and snagged a widowed Marquis during her come-out in Bath. Honor’s (now deceased) vicar father dissuaded his wife from writing to her cousin but the lady remembered Honor in her will. With the necklace (a family heirloom) comes £500 and a house in Bath so that Honor can have her own come-out.
At first mama is all for selling the necklace – they’ve gotten a letter from the new Marquis offering £30,000 for it – to provide for the family (well, mainly for Percy, Honor’s thankfully unspoilable younger brother) but common sense Aunt Thomasine, with whom they’ve been living since papa’s death and who was Honoria’s sister, sees things differently. Why not let Honor have her time in Bath where she might make a match? If she doesn’t snag a husband, the necklace can be sold afterwards and Honor will still have her fond memories.
Soon Honor and Aunt Thomasine are in Bath and settling in, getting their fal-lals made and paying calls on all the Bath quizzes who might make – or break – Honor at the Assembly Balls. It is on an afternoon when Honor is left alone that disaster almost strikes. Saved in the nick of time by a handsome but distinctly cool, slightly older gentleman, Honor doesn’t notice his reaction when she mentions her name. He escorts her home and after a peal is rung over her head by Aunt Thomasine, he offers to lead her out in the minuet at her first ball and even spends an next afternoon at the house polishing up her dancing skills.
After that, despite all her ingenious efforts, Aunt Thomasine can’t discover anything about Mr. Jocelyn from any of her Bath acquaintances and the man himself is not to be seen anywhere. Oh well, Honor is still enjoying herself until an innocent remark from a new friend clues her in that something in the arrangement of the household is strange. Determined to confront who she thinks is responsible, she gets her chance sooner than she bargained on and Mr. Jocelyn is back in their lives.
The gentleman sets himself out to be charming and soon they’re sharing morning rides. Most of the time, he’s down-to-Earth and amiable but there are times when Mr. Jocelyn displays a decided cynical side. Country bred Honor shows how much her Aunt Thomasine’s common sense has formed her character and decries the thought of marrying without at least some affection. She earnestly informs Mr. Jocelyn that she has no thought of marrying for money or position. In fact, she positively abhors the idea of being Somebody in London as it’s hard enough for her to manage being a Nobody in Bath.
Meanwhile, mama, Percy and Honor’s younger sister decide to join them in Bath at which point mama fusses that Honor hasn’t brought any beau up to scratch yet. There is an entirely suitable candidate but by now Honor knows who she loves, even if she’s astonished when she realizes how little she knows about his job or prospects. Mr. Jocelyn knows who he wants as well but will he be able to outwit mama and convince Honor of his heart and his intentions before the cat is out of the bag?
As I reread this book, I remembered why I had liked it in the first place. Honor is totally without guile and takes people at face value. She’s got a level head on her shoulders and even when Mr. Jocelyn tries her patience at times, she doesn’t go into snits. They actually talk too. Everything is seen from Honor’s POV which is necessary to keep something hidden until the very end (though it’s probably easy for people to figure it out) and given how she’s not used to city of Bath life, I can believe that she wouldn’t immediately pick up on certain things.
Mr. Jocelyn is about 10 years older than she and has a tendency to take charge at times but there’s a background reason for that and he’s always polite. Or he’s just maybe a little mischievous but he never does anything in spite and once Honor has him wound around her finger, it’s clear he’s smitten.
So yay, that the Suck Fairy still hasn’t zapped me and that I enjoyed this one just as much as I remembered it was and hoped that it would be. Though I do still like the older Fawcett cover that shows Honor and Mr. Jocelyn stepping out at her first ball. A-