My Fair Quiggley
The ladies of Lucy Lavender Enterprises have fallen on hard times and are desperate need of cash, so they decide to catch notorious highwayman Dandy Dan for the five hundred pounds reward. Lady Miranda, founder of Lucy Lavender, pretends to be stranded along a stretch of road that Dandy Dan frequents and Miss Desdamona Quiggly, partner in the firm, hides out of sight, planning to take him down with her sling shot. Unfortunately, CJ Wesley, Marquis of Daxonbury, comes along and is on the receiving end of Miss Quiggly’s sling. Lady Miranda and Quiggly roll him over, wash away some of the mud, then realize their mistake and take him home. When he comes to, Daxonbury reveals that he is Lady Miranda’s nephew (she hasn’t seen him in seventeen years and he’s quite grown up in her absence). He’s come to Yorkshire to find out why she hasn’t written anyone in the family in the last six months.
You see, Lady Miranda started Lucy Lavender (they produce lavender-filled pillows) to prove to her brother, Daxonbury’s father, that she can be independent. She’s reluctant to let Daxonbury know that she’s having troubles; but once she is convinced he won’t run back to his father, the duke, to tattle on her, she admits Lucy Lavender has hit a run of bad luck. After hearing her out Daxonbury doesn’t agree it’s misfortune – instead he believes there’s a villain behind everything that has gone wrong. With the help of Miss Quiggly, he investigates. As they near the truth, things start to happen that are clearly no accident.
My Fair Quiggly is supposed to be a cross between a madcap comedy and drawing room mystery. Unfortunately, there aren’t really any funny moments and the mystery never seems much of a mystery. Instead, the characters seem childish and silly. The dialogue often had me rolling my eyes, especially when Daxonbury would talk to his horse, Harley. The horse, as well as a mastiff named Elizabeth, are two of the secondary characters in this story. They come across as brighter than their human counterparts. Also irritating is that Lady Miranda is so very reluctant to ask Daxonbury for help; her need to be independent borders on childish petulance.
While I came to enjoy Daxonbury, who seemed to be the sanest and smartest member of this quirky cast, I lost all respect for him when he fell in love with Miss Quiggly. This woman, and I use that term loosely, was a childish brat. She’d act without thinking (e.g. the opening sling shot episode). Also, she was continuously begging to be treated as an equal to men, then she’d fall back on such feminine wiles as crying and pouting when she didn’t get her way.
But my biggest complaint has to do with the highwayman Dandy Dan, real name Josiah Elliot. He does enter the story fairly quickly and proves to be Lady Miranda’s love interest. We’re told a lot about him, but his story is never wrapped up. There was no indication there will be a sequel, because the HEA for him and Miranda was understood to be fait accompli when he rode off to confront his past demons which were alluded to and never spelt out. I do not mind being left hanging if I know there’s another story or a chance for another story, but here is a case of a big build up with no payoff.
I found some moments in the My Fair Quiggly that made me smile and it was an easy read, but I can’t really recommend it. Too much was left hanging at the end and I just could not warm to the title character.