Desert Isle Keeper
The Pursuits of Lord Kit Cavanaugh
The Pursuits of Lord Kit Cavanaugh is a delightful read that took me back to Lauren’s earliest, subtle Regencies, with the added fillip of strong, sensual protagonists that her readers have come to expect in recent years. Something else that I enjoyed – learning about the titular ‘pursuits’ of Kit Cavanaugh and his love, Miss Sylvia Buckleberry. Sylvia and Kit are acquainted; they were paired up, as bridesmaid and groomsman, at the wedding of Kit’s brother (Randolph) and Sylvia’s friend (Felicia) in The Designs of Lord Randolph Cavanaugh, the first of Laurens’ Cavanaugh series. The wedding isn’t a pleasant memory for either of them. Kit Cavanaugh – a gorgeous physical specimen – was Sylvia’s beau ideal during the less-than-memorable years she endured the London Season. How sad, for Sylvia, that Kit’s stellar looks were matched with a disreputable, rakish demeanor. Or so she thought. Given her unhappy memories of London, Sylvia was chilly and dismissive to Kit at her friend’s nuptials.
For reasons that are explored and explained in The Pursuits of Lord Kit Cavanaugh, Kit deliberately adopted the persona of a bon vivant during his years in London. Only recently has he felt emboldened to pursue his dream: “Kit is all business and has chosen the bustling port of Bristol to launch his passion—Cavanaugh Yachts.”
Of course, it’s inevitable, following the immutable laws of romance, that Sylvia will be awaiting in Bristol: “Miss Sylvia Buckleberry’s passion is her school for impoverished children.” Imagine her shock and dismay when she is told that she has a week to find a new location for her school and that she is being displaced by Lord Kit Cavanaugh! Sylvia is not prepared to meekly accept her fate: she storms the barricades.
She stepped into his inner sanctum and let fly. “I might have known!” Her tone dripped acid; her bosom swelled as she drew breath. “Of all the cities in England, you had to choose this one, and, of course, you think nothing of trampling over whomever and whatever stands in your way.” She locked her eyes on his as she halted on the other side of the desk, then dramatically flung her arms wide. “I can just imagine the reactions of the Dock Company directors. Yes, my lord. No, my lord. Three bags full, my lord.” Indigo sparks flared in the periwinkle-blue of her eyes. Her lush lips set in a thin line, she glared at him accusingly. “I’m quite sure that’s how it went.” She railed on, but while Kit’s brain registered her words, he wasn’t really listening.
Instead, he could only stare, grappling to make sense of the transformation of Sylvia Buckleberry that had manifested before him.
Kit is bouleversé; this new incarnation of Miss Buckleberry has “transfixed his senses and scattered his wits.” What’s a Laurens’ hero to do? First, gather the facts—to Kit’s chagrin, he learns that “the charity using the warehouse is a school.” Sylvia’s school, to be exact. Step two, fix the problem. Kit asks Sylvia to tell him everything about her establishment. He then offers to “fund the rent for not just another venue but a better venue for the school”, and although Kit is sincere in thinking that decision “will go a substantial way toward establishing the Cavanaugh name among the dockworkers and shipyard families,” the silver lining is obvious. Kit will get “to spend more time with this new, much improved, and utterly fascinating Miss Buckleberry.”
Two are stronger than one: Kit and Sylvia make a formidable pair, but they encounter enemies. Not everyone is in favor of educating the sons of dockworkers. Kit also has detractors, in particular, a man who feels threatened by Kit’s ambitious plans to design and build nimble, ocean-going wooden yachts. I was not surprised to discover that Kit and Sylvia were more than a match for their opponents. What I found unusual was the empathy they displayed to people who lashed out at them out of anger and fear. They lavished “the milk of human kindness” on those who sought to hurt them, defusing their anxieties and transforming them into allies.
It’s also lovely to watch Sylvia lower her guard and take a chance on the man who has always been the “embodiment of her fantasy gentleman.”
Here, now, they were interacting freely, adult to adult, with no screens, no masks. No façades.
Letting the silence stretch, she eyed him assessingly. She would dearly love to retreat to the chilly reserve she’d previously maintained with him—infinitely safer, without a shadow of a doubt—but the intent look in his caramel eyes and the faint suggestion of a smile about his lips gave warning that she would be unwise to attempt it …
So, what’s it going to be Sylvia? Readers will rejoice when Kit and Sylvia proceed side by side, initially as business partners but ultimately as the key in each other’s lock. It’s not just Kit who will devour his adventure with Sylvia with “equal parts satisfaction and anticipation.” This was a completely satisfying entry in Stephanie Laurens’ formidable array of historical romances.
I look forward to the next in the Cavanaugh saga.