By Clare Darcy
Richard, Richard, don’t say that to her!” said Lady Brassborough, horrified; but Richard was already out of the room. “Men!” said Lady Brassborough, regarding her empty cup with dark, disillusioned eyes. “If they can’t make a mull of a love scene one way, they’ll do it another!” She poured herself out another cup of chocolate.
I remember Clare Darcy from my youth as the next best thing to Georgette Heyer. Every time I went to the library I would check the shelf on every visit in hopes of a new title magically appearing on the shelf. In those days, before the internet, that’s what you did. I know I read all of her books back then, but strangely I only remember Elyza and Lady Pamela, which I remember were excellent. So I thought I’d give her another try.
On her way to London with her best friend, Muffet, to have her first season and snare a husband, Eugenia comes across a young man in an Inn who is being pursued by Bow Street Runners. She mistakes him for her wild and irresponsible cousin Gerald, but she learns he is really Richard, her cousin and the illegitimate son of the dead heir to a nice property in the country. Gerald is thought to have murdered a coachman while pretending to be a highwayman. Eugenia sets out to prove Richard, and eventually, Gerald is not guilty of the crime by catching the real murderer. At the same time, she is on a mission to prove that Richard’s parents were really married making Richard the true heir and thus a man of means. Eugenia is lively, redoubtable, and very “managing.”
The romance between Eugenia and Richard is definitely on the back burner and really only exists to provide a happy ending and a hopeful future for them both at the end of the adventure. There is just too many other things going on to spend much time on it: Mistaken identity, impersonation, murder, wrongful accusation, an accidental engagement to the wrong man, family squabbles, and later in the book the introduction of Lady B, an eccentric old tart who is luckily on the side of our heroes and heroines.
The book is engagingly written despite Clare Darcy’s very long run-on sentences. It is not a social comedy as most regencies are, but a romp and an adventure. It is light and fluffy with likable characters and I’ll probably try another one down the road.
August 16, 2021