The Larkswood Legacy
The Larkswood Legacy is a traditional regency where the main characters play out their romance in the midst of a crowd. Kudos to Nicola Cornick for a wonderful group of supporting characters and for not losing sight of the main couple in a nicely complicated plot. Toward the end of the story, the heroine Annabella exhibited a so-stubborn-I-wanted-to-shake-her bit of behavior that was quite exasperating, but it passed and the ending was very sweet. I felt a bit at loose ends at first, since the characters in this book were introduced in True Colors which I have not read, but plan to. But I soon got the feel of things and was lost in a wonderful Regency Romance.
Annabella St Auby is a poor relation. She is the daughter of a wealthy cit who planned to marry her to an odious man. Annabella made an impulsive marriage to Francis St Auby, and found she had made a bad bargain. He wanted her as an heiress, and when her father died with tangled affairs leaving Annabella no money, the St Aubys treated her abominably. When the book begins, Francis is dead and Lady St Auby is continuing to treat Annabella like a servant.
Annabella is of good family – her grandmother is a countess and her sister is married to a marquis. She has been estranged from her family for some years, but all that is about to change. At an assembly where Lady St Auby is making cutting remarks to Annabella and she is being snubbed by the St Auby syncopants, the Viscount Mundell and the Earl and Countess of Kilgarren, friends of her sister, come in and begin to talk to Annabella. One of the members of the party is Sir William Weston, a handsome, charming man who pays Annabella much attention.
Over the next couple of weeks, Annabella becomes part of the Mundell set, and she and William become good friends. This does not sit well with Miss Ermina Hurst, a pretty, vapid and vicious young lady who has set her cap for William and is quite put out by his attentions to Annabella. Miss Hurst is all “Lud” and “La” and a wonderfully wicked portrait of an ambitious title-hunter.
Just as things are going well for Annabella and William, she finds out that her father’s tangled affairs have finally been sorted out and she has been left a small legacy – a farm and home on the small estate of Larkswood, quite close to her sister’s home. Then she finds out that Larkswood was William’s childhood home, and it was won by her father in a game of hazard. She immediately comes to the conclusion that William had wooed her for her estate, not for herself. It is during that portion of the book that I wanted to shake her – seldom have I seen such a stubborn character.
The story continues, with William being accused of treason, Annabella and her sister being reconciled and much, much more. There is even a delicious set-down for Miss Hurst. She snags herself a Duke. And if you wonder how that could possibly be a set-down, read the book.
I very much enjoyed The Larkswood Legacy. There was a richness about it that I have sometimes missed in Regency Romances. It had a real feeling for the time and place and the writing was smooth and professional. If all of Mills and Boon Regencies are like this one, I may have start buying more of them as they are reprinted in the Harlequin Regency line.