Lady Margaret Castleton folded the papers and tucked them under the womanly dainties in her dresser drawer. She went to the window and looked out onto the lush greenery that was no longer hers. The last of the live stock had been sold earlier that day and the county solicitor had just left with the deed signing over the property that had been in her family for generations, to a new owner.
In less than a week she was to leave for America, arriving in the Port of San Francisco and into the care of a man she'd never met. Now, there was but one thing left to do. She tugged on the bell pull of the now bare library where her father had spent so many hours when he was alive.
A few minutes later she heard a light rap on the door and her maid Kristen Brent entered.
"Yes mum?" the girl said with a quick curtsy.
"Kristen I am sure that you are aware that I will be leaving England in a few days."
The girl nodded sadly and waited for her to continue.
"I've set aside funds that should hold you for the month and also written a letter of reference-although I'm not sure it will do much good here in view of everything that has happened." She looked down at her thin hands then back up at Kristen.
"Perhaps if you try Hellenshire, or Buckingham you might find suitable employment."
"Begging your pardon Mum, but you know as well as I that it isn't proper for a lady of your station to travel alone."
Margaret gave her a wry grin. "I don't think my station will make much difference where I'm going."
"It always matters. Besides what do you think I'll be about here all alone to fend for myself?" she said folding her hands over her chest.
Margaret went and sat on the wooden chair and pressed her lace hanky at the corners of her eyes. "I know it's not much and I wish there was more I could do for you but…"
"If you don't mind me having my say mum, I'll do it and then be about my chores. It's a bad thing that's happened, but it's done and it doesn't look like you can do anything about it. So if you don't mind you can just take that money you were going to give me and pay for my passage because I'm comin' with ya and I'll not hear another word about it." Kristen gave her a moment to let the words sink in before going on. "Now then, I'll just go and fix you a nice cup of hot tea and then pack my things." She curtsied again turned and left the room leaving Lady Margaret dumbfounded and grateful.
Lady Castleton leaves England for America where she is to marry an English Lord whom she has never met. Her maid Kirsten accompanies her on the voyage, where she meets Wade Larson. Lady Castleton dies during the journey, bequeathing her jewels, money, clothing and name to Kirsten. Since Lord Edward has never met her, Kirsten can pass for his fiancée and have a much better life than she would have as a maid.
Unfortunately, Kirsten’s jewels are stolen, her fiancée is nowhere to be found, and her best friend is a madam in a brothel. She appeals to Wade for help on a number of levels, and finds herself married to him, but running her own business, when he leaves her to attend to business elsewhere. Edward vows revenge on her and makes good his threats on Kirsten’s business partner. When Wade learns that Edward is a murderer, he returns to protect Kirsten, but finds her kidnapped by Edward.
If this all sounds complicated, it is, but it’s very well handled in A Lesson in Love and all becomes clear once you get a handle on all the players, and I don’t want to give away any more of the plot. I liked the fiercely independent Kirsten, who certainly reminds me more of a 21stcentury woman than a 19thcentury one. Wade is a reluctant hero, but he learns to cope with Kirsten’s independence and their star-crossed love.
Edward is creepy and evil, as befits a nasty villain, and he made my skin crawl. The epilogue will make your skin crawl too, despite the HEA for now ending.
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