REVIEW: Lord Calne’s Christmas Ruby by Jude Knight
Fashionable London holds nothing for wealthy merchant’s niece, Lalamani Finchurch. Except perhaps for an earl with a twisted hand and a charming smile. Why, for all the fortune hunters she has fended off since returning from India, is the one man who seems to like her so against marrying for money?
Philip has inherited an earldom that his only two choices are to marry for money or to abandon Society altogether and return to his work as an engineer. Which is no choice at all, until a tiny woman with beautiful eyes and a fine mind dances with him on his last night in London.
When they meet again in a small country village, they join forces to uncover larceny and deceit, to rescue Lalamani’s aunt from poverty, and to discover that pride is a poor reason to refuse a love for a lifetime.
Dear Ms. Knight,
Well look at that. It’s November again and it’s time for holiday novellas. I bought yours last year but unfortunately didn’t get a chance to read it in time. But this year I made sure to queue it up on my ereader.
What attracted me to the story is the fact that Lalamani is from the merchant class (her father and uncle were gem merchants and she’s named for a ruby they did a deal on just before her birth) while Phillip unexpectedly inherited an earldom (he’s the son of the second son and never expected his two cousins to die young with no heirs). Neither is welcomed with open arms by the ton. Lamamani because she stinks of the shops – according to the cats who corner her at a London ball – and Phillip because he was injured during the Peninsula Wars and his title is bankrupt. Sticking together during the ball, they talk openly as neither expects to see the other again. Lalamani tells Phillip she’s weary of fortune hunters while he shrinks from being thought of as one. If only things were different, they think …
Well things get believably different when they meet again in the country. Lalamani has escaped the grasping clutches of an aunt who wanted to corner her inheritance while Phillip is trying to salvage what he can from his destitute estate before selling what he can to pay the creditors (the estate entail having not been renewed).
Lalamani has realized that the money left for another aunt is somehow being swindled while Phillip hears disturbing tales of lost rents and suffering tenants for whom he feels responsibilities he never imagined he would – not having grown up on the estate. Can they work together to discover the culprit and will they finally give in and admit to the feelings everyone around them can see they have for each other?
Both lead characters are honest and hard working people. They don’t take advantage of people and are almost achingly noble. Well at least about each other. They care about those under their care and for whom they feel responsible and their relationship steadily grows as they get to know each other. There’s actually not that much Christmas in the story but I enjoyed it anyway and look forward to trying more of your books. B