I had a real grading conundrum with Lady Maybe. On the one hand Ms. Klassen is an experienced wordsmith with smooth prose whose twisting, turning plot kept me eagerly engaged in the tale. On the other hand some of the twists and turns came across as more than a little melodramatic. I kept thinking, “Only in a romance novel.”
When Hannah Rogers goes to the Mayfield home to collect the remainder of her wages, she finds the house in an uproar. The family is quitting Bath and moving to the country. In spite of the mayhem, Lady Mayfield is delighted to see her and Hannah is asked to come with her and serve as her companion again. Hannah has compelling reasons to stay where she is. However, she is desperately in need of funds and so agrees to go at the last possible moment.
Of course this last minute decision proves to be catastrophic. They are involved in a bad carriage accident. Unfortunately, Hannah wakens with a head injury and no real knowledge of herself or her circumstances. Everyone about her calls her Lady Mayfield and tries to speak to her of her husband Sir John. She doesn’t know why that is not quite right and doesn’t have the strength or mental power to figure out the problem.
It isn’t long though until Hannah regains her memories. Her initial thought is to set the record straight at once but then she realizes the advantage she has at the moment. Sir John was gravely injured in the accident and is in a coma. Lady Mayfield apparently drowned. If Hannah can just pretend to be her employer for a few short days, she should have the means to retrieve her illegitimate child from Bath and set herself up in a new town with gainful employment.
Shocker! Her plan goes awry almost from the first moment she attempts to set it in motion. For starters, a woman of Lady Mayfield’s station does not run around hiring coaches for herself and taking them to Bath on her own. She is forced to accept the doctor’s son and the girl he is courting as escort. Once she gets to Bath, she has to do some verbal tap dancing to get away from them to try to find her son. Proving luck ain’t a lady, Hannah’s runs out after finding her child. Before she can whisk him away, she is found by her escort and forced back into the role of Lady Mayfield. She loads her son and his nurse into the carriage and hopes she can somehow find a way for the three of them to escape Devonshire later. That will be easier said than done since almost immediately after arriving back there she is met with Sir John’s very suspicious new solicitor and a whole host of other problems, not least of which is that Sir John is now awake.
The above is actually the straightforward portion of the plot. It gets a lot more convoluted as one goes along. Driving a lot of the mess is the fact that the young Lady Mayfield was cheating on her husband since the start of their marriage. She is in love with another man and Sir John’s grand plan, not exactly the brightest, was to keep them apart by moving from location to location along the breadth of England. Additional proof of the fact that the man isn’t the brightest apple on the tree is the fact that Hannah was initially hired to keep Lady Mayfield in check. How a servant was to do that when her own husband couldn’t was beyond me. It was apparently beyond Hannah too because she was certainly not successful.
Sir John is something of an enigma. We know he is successful and wealthy but once he awakens he is by turns standoffish, warm, mysterious and concise. All the confusion of character stems from the fact that the author has a big secret she doesn’t want to reveal until at least halfway through the book. As a result of said secret, Sir John enthusiastically enters into Hannah’s charade once he is made aware of it. Fairly quickly he involves his solicitor, who by this time is falling for Hannah and before you can say “convoluted mess,” things really go awry.
One of my struggles with the plot came from the fact that when a simple truth would work the characters tended to fall back on complex lies. Truth and a willingness to deal head on with the outcome of that truth, would have served these characters much better than their lies did. I also didn’t get why Sir John was so blasted determined to reconcile his mess of a marriage. As a man, he had a lot more leeway in how he could handle the situation than a woman would have and yet he never seemed to consider any options. Those he did consider he dismissed as more trouble than they were worth which made no sense given why he had contracted the solicitor.
I also didn’t understand why Hannah didn’t inform her son’s father of his birth. As we see later in the novel the man would have been more than happy to help them. And I could never really understand what the three players behind the big scheme that is revealed at the end of the book hoped to gain as their plan seemed to lack any kind of logical sense.
One other thing readers might want to know – Ms. Klassen typically writes Inspirational romance, and this book does contain talk of God and forgiveness. However, much of it reads pretty much like a straightforward historical with plenty of “worldly” behavior to go around. Those who like their inspirationals to follow “the rules” may be put off, but others may find it an interesting read.
I read a wide variety of romance sub-genres so while the book not being a typical Inspirational was a surprise, it wasn’t a problem for me. The story is well written in terms of prose, character development and setting in both depicting the time and place. I struggled with the complex, melodramatic plot but I also got swept up in it, anxious to see just what crazy thing was going to happen next. So I give the book a recommendation with a caveat – be prepared for a lot of drama.