Elinor Bascombe, widowed and tied to an impoverished estate, has learned to ask little of life. With no hope of leaving, the years have passed her by. Lord Ryde, exiled abroad after a scandal, has returned to strip his estate and make a new start in America. A chance encounter changes their plans, plunging Elinor and Lord Ryde into adventure and not a little peril until, finally, they are forced to confront the mystery of what happened on that night, all those years ago.
Are they both so entangled in the riddles of the past that they are about to miss this one last opportunity for future happiness?
Rating: Narration – B+; Content – B
A Bachelor Establishment was published in 2015, but harks back to the Traditional Regency, with its strong observational humour and echoes of a comedy of manners. The attributed author is Isabella Barclay, which is actually the name of one of the characters created by Jodi Taylor in her St. Mary’s Chronicles, a series of novels based around a group of historians who travel through time to investigate major historical events. I’m not sure which book(s) Isabella Barclay appears in – but I rather like the idea of Ms. Taylor turning her into the author of historical romances.
Mrs Elinor Bascome, a widow in her forties, lives on the impoverished estate that by rights belongs to her late husband’s brother, George. But following the terrible events of one fateful night years ago, George fled his brother’s house and hasn’t been heard of since. So Elinor continues to live in reduced circumstances, secure in the knowledge that while she might not have much money, she is at least no longer subject to her husband’s physical abuse and her life is her own. Always a neck-and-neck rider, she’s galloping across the neighbouring land belonging to the absent Lord Ryde when she almost mows down an unknown man, who ends up – unharmed – in a ditch. Naturally, harsh words are exchanged – and Elinor then realises that the man, who is not much older than herself, must be Lord Ryde, returned from exile abroad.
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