Come What May
Come What May is an historical romance set in America, but it’s not a Western. Leslie LaFoy’s latest is set in Virginia on the eve of the American Revolution. The plot involves a forced marriage between two strong characters who made this a very fun book to read.
When Claire Curran, acting as a representative for her uncle George Seaton-Smythe, delivers a letter to attorney Edmund Cantrell, she thinks it is a routine business transaction involving Devon Rivard, the man who is in Cantrell’s office. But when Cantrell opens the letter, both Claire and Devon are shocked.
Devon’s brother Wyndom is in debt to Seaton-Smythe for 2,000 pounds. Wyndom has no money, Devon has no money, but if Devon will marry Claire, the debt will be cancelled, and Seaton-Smythe will be rid of a dependent relative. Devon and Claire are angry, but since she has no way back to England, and he has no money, they plan a marriage in name only and a quiet annulment in the future.
When Claire and Devon get to his plantation, she finds things in chaos. Devon may be a Virginia aristocrat with extensive holdings, but he’s toe-dancing on the verge of bankruptcy. In residence are Devon, his brother Wyndom, his mother, his aunt, and a handful of slaves. Devon and the slaves are the only ones who will lift a finger to do anything. Wyndom gambles, and Mrs. Rivard and her sister sit around and expect to be waited on, while the house falls to dust and disorder.
Claire begins by teaching the new cook how to cook, then when the Lee brothers send word that they are dropping by for a visit, starts in and bullies everyone into helping clean. Pretty soon, Devon’s home is in better shape than it ever has been. Devon finds himself intrigued by Claire. She is intelligent, somewhat prickly, and not at all like the women he is used to – no compliant helpless miss, she.
But soon complications arise. Devon’s former mistress comes back into the picture wanting to resume their relationship (she is rich). Claire gets a summons to return to England to give testimony against her uncle, Virginia’s House of Burgesses and the Crown are at odds, and revolution seems to be in the air. Then someone makes several attempts to kill Claire.
Come What May is plot heavy and propelled by incidents. The characters barely have time to collect themselves after one near disaster and then something else happens. Sometimes, in a book like this that is filled with events, the characters seem like puppets, but Devon and Claire are both so vivid that they really stand out amid all the things that keep happening. They also make a wonderful couple with a real sense of being right for each other. I’ve read a string of books lately with couples who did not click with each other, but Devon and Claire belonged together.
There were a few problems. The titles are all wrong. Claire’s father was supposed to be a baron, but he is referred to as Mr. Curren, while everyone calls Claire “Lady Claire.” I winced every time some one addressed her. Several of the secondary characters were over the top, especially Devon’s former mistress who is hammy and evil in the extreme. Devon’s aunt Elsbeth is also very exaggerated in her villainy. And of course there’s slave-owning. Not just that, but some of the slave characters were almost saintly, especially Devon’s major-domo Ephraim (who is also his half-brother).
But all in all, I enjoyed this book a great deal. I liked the setting, I loved Claire and Devon, and the plot simply zoomed me along. Come What May is one of the longer books I’ve read lately, but I finished it in a short period of time because it moved so quickly. Goodness knows the pickings for non-Western American historical romances are slim, so if you enjoy the Colonial period, please give this one a try.