Very Truly Yours
Very Truly Yours is a pleasant book. The setting in a small village is very well done – for me it was a pleasure to get out of London. The characters were engaging, both the primary and secondary, and if the mystery was rather transparent – well, I didn’t mind too much.
Jack Fairchild is handsome, handsome to the point of being beautiful. He is the heir to a Baron, and is also a solicitor who does a lot of the Regency equivalent of pro bono work (in secret so as not to compromise his reputation as a rake). Jack is also totally broke, his grandfather the Baron despises him and will not give him any money, so he is facing debtor’s prison for his father’s debts. Life is not exactly kissing Jack Fairchild on the lips. Clearly a change is in order, so Jack and his secretary Harding move to the small village of Middledale where Jack has arranged to take over a lawyer’s office. Jack plans to hide out in the small village till his horrid grandfather dies and he inherits the title. Being a Baron will keep him out of prison. In the meantime, he plans to do a little legal work to make a few pounds to keep body and soul together.
The mailcoach delivers the mail for the village in Jack’s office where the postman can pick it up and deliver it. When one of the letters has an illegible address, Jack reads it and discovers Miss Liza Cranshaw – daughter of the wealthiest man in the village – is planning to marry the odious Viscount Barrington. Barrington wants Liza’s dowry, and her father wants a title in the family, but it is obvious from the letter that there are deeper reasons for the marriage than what appear on the surface.
Jack had met Liza a few years earlier in London, but his rakish code would not allow him to seduce an innocent. Now that he sees her again and notices the beautiful and intelligent woman she has become, he sets out to solve the mystery behind her engagement to the horrid Barrington.
As indicated earlier, the mystery is quite transparent, although there is a final and surprising twist. As for Jack and Liza, I liked them both very, very much. Jack especially was a very good example of a rake with a conscience. He used his legal skills not only to free Liza from Barrington, but also to try and get justice for one of the village tradesman who had been unjustly treated by Barrington. Liza was a smart woman whose attachment to Barrington was undertaken to prevent her family from being hurt. She went into the engagement with her eyes open, feeling she had to in order to keep her family from being hurt.
Although there were many elements in Very Truly Yours that I very truly enjoyed, there were an equal number of problems. The biggest problem was the lack of chemistry between Jack and Liza. Yes, both were likable as people, but as a couple there was no passion, no sizzle, no sensuality. That was true even in their love scenes. And while there were some very engaging secondary characters, they disappeared for long stretches of time. I particularly wanted to see more of Harding, Jack’s secretary, who had an aversion to good, fresh country air. The village setting was well drawn, but magnified in my mind the lack of chemistry between Jack and Liza.
Although there is a distinct lack of sizzle in Very Truly Yours, the interesting characters and enjoyable setting compensate, to an extent, for the romantic flaws. The result is a slightly better than average read.