REVIEW: Inherit My Heart by Mary Burchell
Can Naomi secure her future while keeping her heart intact?
Since the death of her father, eighteen-year-old Naomi Thurrock and her mother have relied on a quarterly allowance from a wealthy but cantankerous relative, Enoch Tenderleigh. When Enoch dies, both are shocked to be left only with a small annuity on which to survive.
However, Naomi soon receives an invitation to stay at Foley Grange — the estate that Enoch left behind — to meet his heir. Hoping that they mean to offer financial assistance, Naomi’s mother urges her to accept.
Finding Enoch’s heir, Jerome Fennell, to be somewhat dark and cynical, Naomi doubts he will be willing to offer any aid. But to her surprise, Jerome — a successful theatre producer — increases the annuity and gives her a job as his assistant.
Caught up in the glamorous world of theatre, Naomi soon comes to admire Jerome’s talent and vision. And as they spend more and more time in each other’s company, she begins to wonder whether their tentative alliance could blossom into something more…
Come back to 1962 when some women knew they could never be the wife of a poor man. Now, don’t take on about that. The heroine’s mother willingly married a poor man because she loved him and that is why Naomi and said mother find themselves in a bit of a pickle when this book begins.
You see, since the death of Mr. Thurrock, they’ve been dependent upon the miserly quarterly allowance given to them by some distant relation (no one can actually figure it out) named Enoch Tenderleigh. Is that the name of someone willing to give generously? No, no it’s not. So when a letter arrives inviting Naomi to visit the home of the other distant relations to whom Enoch Tenderleigh did leave his squillions of pounds, Mrs. Thurrock – a woman of common sense even if she has no willpower to live within her means – not only urges Naomi to go, she calls and speaks to the woman who (grudgingly, Mrs. Thurrock is sure) wrote the invitation.
Naomi isn’t as eager to appear in a command performance to see if she’s worthy of getting any crumbs from these people but as her mother points out, if they can get anything, it could make the difference between living frugally and nicely or living pinch penny and poorly. So off Naomi goes to the estate owned by Jerome Fennell (the blurb is not quite correct). There she meets his younger brother Martin who is gay and charming and his mother who is all that is cooly correct but obviously indifferent to Naomi.
After some interesting encounters with (the slightly intimidating) Jerome and an embarrassing one with a young woman who overheard Mrs. Thurrock’s entreaties to Naomi (while Naomi was boarding the train) on how to play the visit, Naomi finds herself invited to see Jerome (a great stage producer in London) at work. After brother Martin mucks things up a bit and Naomi’s (sorta) fairy godmother (I saw the woman this way) gives her courage, Naomi’s life changes with the offer of a job. Oh, yes she must be willing to work hard for a demanding taskmaster (kind of makes me wonder if Mary Burchell herself had bosses like this) but of course our Burchell heroine absolutely thrives on hard work.
But as she finds out who she really loves, can Naomi avoid one proposal she doesn’t want while hiding her true feelings from the man from whom she longs for a proposal?
Well, yes of course because this is a Mary Burchell romance. A lot of stuff will happen along the way though. There were a few things I was expecting that remarkably didn’t happen (thankfully) though Naomi is given the opportunity (more than once) to show her inner strength when two women think to sharpen their claws on her or someone she loves. Naomi is a bit naive at times – as would most eighteen year olds who have never been in these situations before, but she is also confident in her opinion and willing to stand up for herself and not be steamrolled into doing something she doesn’t want.
She does underestimate her attractiveness to the man who ends up adoring her but then most Burchell heroines do even if we readers know her shining goodness. At least most of these demanding bosses can spot the heroine’s talents. Her mother is a pretty flibbertigibbet but one who does manage to suss out some home truths about people that perhaps Naomi – at times – wishes her mother didn’t.
One thing to mention – Jerome was injured from a fall which badly damaged a hip and he limps and is referred to as lame though no one acts ableist around him. He is quite exacting about the production but then, as Naomi realizes, people who live on their nerves, probably are (as Burchell knew from being around opera people).
In the end, true love prevails, misunderstandings – of which there are a few – are cleared up and Mrs. Thurrock is just as happy as Naomi about who the groom will be. B