Saturday, April 26, 2008

Hidden Inheritance - Emily Hendrickson

I've been in the mood for regencies lately, traditional regencies! I have a few Georgette Heyer books arriving soon and in preparation I've been grabbing every trad regency recommendation I have wrote down in the past months. One of them was this Hidden Inheritance...

Beautiful Vanessa Tarleton realized the risk of accepting a position in the household of Nicholas Leighton, Earl of Stone. She knew very well his lurid reputation.

But Vanessa's father had gambled away her family fortune, and she desperately needed employment. She told herself that she could evade whatever snares Nicholas might set. All she had to do was recall his record as a wanton womanizer and remind herself that marriage to her was the last thing on his mind.

Then Vanessa arrived at the earl's isolated country estate--and discovered that though she was forewarned about this infamously attractive man, she was not forearmed.

In a way I was expecting something a bit different. Right in the beginning we have a scene where Lord Stone speaks about hiring Vanessa and I thought there was some mystery involved, it made me think this might be some sort of gothic story. And that Vanessa would spend sometime evading Lord Stone's advances.

However it didn't evolve that way. Vanessa, whose hobby at home was to restore the family tapestries, goes to work for lord Stone when her father looses everything and then dies. She has to find employment and since Lord Stone needs someone to restore his tapestries it seems the perfect arrangement. From the beginning Vanessa isn't treated like a servant and her behaviour is more like a member of the family. Especially when she starts helping Stone's sister loosing weight and taking care of her skin to conquer her beau. That part was nicely done and realistic - it takes time and patience. I never quite understood why Stone was so set against it though. He is mentioned several times as a rake but the truth is that he always behaved very correctly and his relationship with Vanessa only develops a bit when they are both attracted to each other but he has to marry for money and Vanessa is penniless.

While working on the tapestries Vanessa notices some lumps but she never finds the occasion to mention it to Lord Stone. At the same time she starts to distrust the housekeeper who seems to be trying to gain some money on the side. They'll have to face a perilous situation that brings them closer together and in the end it's Vanessa who finds the hidden inheritance and solves Lord Stone's problems.

It was a nice and interesting story but I think it lacked some little detail to make the action move forward a bit and make the characters show their emotions. And the story of the hidden inheritance could have been an interesting mystery to counterpart the love story but instead was relegated to the last chapter.

Grade: B-

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