The Daring Miss Lassiter
I was rather intrigued by the premise of The Daring Miss Lassiter. I thought that there was a fair bit of possibility in this impersonation story, and was looking forward to discovering how Stewart would tell her tale. Unfortunately, some very unlikely plot twists and a lack of chemistry between the lead characters made this book only an average read.
Miss Audrey Lassiter is not a girl with a lot of options. She lives with her disabled father and her younger sister. They have only the income her father gets from tutoring and what produce and bakery goods she and her sister can sell in the local market. It looks very much like Audrey will have to marry to provide better for all of them. But Audrey doesn’t want to marry for money, she wants to marry for love. Then one day a stranger, Mr. Turner, approaches her and offers her an incredible proposition. If she will pose as Roxanne, the long-lost daughter of Turner’s employer Lady Hastings, he will pay her 10,000 pounds. Lady Hastings, you see, is dying, and she has been longing to see her missing daughter. Turner wishes to give this to her, and will pay Audrey out of the inheritance he will get from Lady Hastings’s estate. Audrey can’t see any way not to accept, given her financial situation, so she makes her way to Far Winds, the Hastings estate, and begins an uncomfortable charade.
Harry, Lord Hastings, immediately sees through Audrey’s act. She looks a bit like Roxanne, but she acts nothing like the Roxanne he remembers. However, he fears that Lady Hastings, his aunt, will not see through her and will suffer because of her deception. So he begins a battle of wills, intent on exposing Audrey as a fraud. His one problem? He takes a liking to her. If she weren’t such a manipulative little deceiver, she might be very, very tempting. But it’s not possible to fall in love with someone you don’t trust, right? Wrong.
This book was easy to read, and the writing was clear and engaging. The premise, though perhaps extremely unlikely, was interesting, and I was enjoying myself until about fifty pages from the end. But then the book began to fall apart. The things that happened and the secrets that were revealed in the last fifty pages were so incredibly implausible that I could almost feel my enjoyment of the book seep out of me. This was very disappointing, because up until that point I had been pretty satisfied. I’d been hoping that this might be the book to pull me out of my Regency Romance slump.
Another large problem with The Daring Miss Lassiter was that there was little discernable chemistry between Harry and Audrey. They are both nice people, worthy characters, but there’s no real spark between them. Also, their love blossomed too quickly for me to take it seriously. Harry starts the book extremely suspicious of and hostile to Audrey, convinced that she has no scruples, and within a very short period of time, he comes to trust her completely. I thought this was unlikely.
One last problem I had with this book is that the sum of money Audrey is offered to take part in the deception, 10,000 pounds, was an outrageous sum of money in the Regency period. 10,000 pounds was Mr. Darcy’s entire yearly income, and he was very rich and eligible. According to one book I read this would equal over $300,000 in today’s dollars. There is no way that a servant could have expected to inherit anywhere near this amount of money. It just doesn’t calculate.
And yet with all of these problems The Daring Miss Lassiter is still not a terrible read. It was just too flawed for me to really enjoy. I would probably give Stewart another chance, though, because her writing style was so smooth and enjoyable. I would just hope that her next effort would not be so problematic.