Desert Isle Keeper
Of Paupers and Peers
Of Paupers and Peers is a perfectly charming book! It’s sweet and light and everything that a regency romance should be. I really loved this one.
Many years ago, Lord Robert Weatherly, the second son of the 4th Duke of Montford, fell in love with a most unsuitable woman. Despite parental disapproval, he married his true love and was cut off from the family. For almost a century, the two branches of the family have not spoken. As this book begins, the the ninth Duke of Montford has died without issue, and the heir to the dukedom turns out to be Mr. James Weatherly, a curate descended from the disgraced Lord Robert. When the family attorney shows up to inform him of his change in status, James is surprised to learn of his new consequence, but mindful of his duty and with an advance of 50 guineas in his pockets, he takes a stagecoach to the Montford estate.
Things would have gone much smoother if he had hired a private coach. The naive and trusting James makes the mistake of allowing one of the passengers to see he has money, and the man and a confederate jump him outside his estate, cosh him over the head, and take off – leaving him unconscious in the road. James is found and rescued by Margaret Darrington, who lives on a small estate next to Montford. Margaret assumes James is Mr. Fanshawe, the tutor she has hired for her brother. In good romance novel fashion, the blow on his head has left James with selective amnesia, he still remembers all his Greek and Latin, but not who he is. Being a tutor seems to be something he knows how to do, so James goes along with being Mr. Fanshawe.
The Darrington family (Margaret, her beautiful sister Amanda, her brother Philip and her Aunt Hattie) are landowners, but right now are cash poor. Despite their modest circumstances, Margaret has been saving to take Amanda to London for the Season in hopes that her beautiful sister can make a brilliant marriage and bring in a much needed infusion of money. Amanda really doesn’t want a great marriage – she loves her home and small village. However if she marries the new and very much expected Duke of Montford she could stay where she is and enrich the family too. But what’s keeping His Grace?
James Weatherly is the sweetest beta hero I’ve encountered this year. He is as charming and endearing as Sherri Cobb South’s wonderful Ethan Brundy from The Weaver Takes A Wife. James is tall and thin with a prominent nose that gave him the nickname weathercock while he was in school. During the course of the novel, James runs into several of his old schoolmates and we can see from their reactions and recollections that James is a decent, good, fun loving man who will make a wonderful husband and father.
James gets his memory back about halfway through the book, and the conflict comes about when he continues in his disguise as Mr. Fanshawe. He has fallen in love with Margaret, but he wants to know if she will love him for himself and not for his ducal wealth and title. The conflict is nothing all that special, but the characters make it a pleasure to read.
And this book is all about the characters. I’ve already raved about James, but Margaret was a joy as well – an intelligent and capable woman, and if she acts a bit high handed at times, she has had to be head of the family for some time and is used to giving orders. Margaret’s sister Amanda gets her own happy ending and Phillip is a pleasant young man who will benefit from his new connection – and it couldn’t happen to a nicer boy.
With the demise of the traditional Regency in paperback, we who love the genre will have to look harder for our favorites. Sheri Cobb South’s trilogy based around Ethan Brundy is one of the best Regency trilogies ever and sits on my keeper shelf. Of Paupers and Peers now joins it. Anyone can make a rakish bad boy interesting, but not too many can accomplish that feat for a sweet, good hero. Sheri Cobb South can and does.