Regency Family Series
NOMINATED FOR THE BTS RED CARPET BOOK REVIEW AWARDS
Freedom. That’s all Lady Honor Baxendale wants—for her sisters and for herself. Honor has a bold plan to become financially independent, using a skill she learned at her father’s knee. She seeks the help of a solicitor and is pleased with her choice…as long as she can resist the solicitor himself.
Lord Edward Winborne has been happy to come to the aid of his four sisters in the past. But when a neighbor’s daughter, Lady Honor Baxendale, requests his help for a dangerous scheme she has in mind, he feels it his duty to dissuade her. When that fails, he wants to protect her, and then somehow finds he wants to do more. Much more.
Lady Honor’s Debt – The Baxendale Sisters Series
By Maggi Andersen
Highland Manor, Royal Tunbridge Wells, 1822
Lady Honor Baxendale left the cook in the kitchen, mulling over the receipts for the following week’s dishes. Her mother was lying down in her bedroom suffering from one of her megrims. Mama’s nerves had worsened of late, especially since Honor’s stepfather had developed such a bad temper.
The house seemed to be constantly in an uproar.
Honor searched for her younger sister, Faith, and found her curled up in the corner of the cerise-striped chintz sofa in the morning room, beside the canary in its gilded cage.
“You might take a walk in the sunshine, Faith. It does lift one’s spirits.”
After Honor opened the French windows, a perfumed breeze swept in to ruffle the curtains. Beyond the terrace, the azalea bushes flaunted their mass of pink and mauve blossoms. “Why not go outdoors on such a beautiful day?”
Faith gestured to the bird which chirped and hopped about. “I am talking to someone who will listen.”
Honor joined her on the sofa. “I am listening. Don’t I always?”
“Yes. But you cannot help me with this, Honor.”
“You’ve been so horribly bored shut away in the country, dearest. Have you asked Papa to take a house in London for the Season?”
“This morning. I begged him, but he was deaf to my pleas. He means to marry me off to Lord Gillingham. And I have no say in the matter.”
Honor drew in a breath. “With me still unwed, I had hoped he’d give you one Season, at least.”
“It’s business. One of us must marry a Gillingham.”
“I’ll talk to him.” Honor doubted anything she said to her stepfather would hold weight. She was aware that she wasn’t in his favor.
“It won’t help,” Faith said in a doleful tone. “His mind is made up.”
“You get on well with Lord Gillingham.” Honor tried to sound positive while appalled at the notion. She would have to think of a way to prevent it. “He’s a personable man, is he not?”
“He’s an amusing partner to sit beside at dinner, but I don’t love him.” Faith poked a restless finger through the bars of the cage, and the bird hopped along the perch to inspect it. “You are fortunate, Honor. Papa doesn’t force you to marry.”
“I am a lost cause. I would not like to see you become one.”
Faith gave a watery sigh and sniffed. “I shouldn’t like that. Just think, if tragedy hadn’t befallen you, you would be happily married now, with children of your own.”
“Yes, dearest.” Honor patted her sister’s hunched shoulder. She couldn’t shrug off the guilty feeling. She’d been glad when her stepfather failed to consider her attractive enough for his business partner’s son. But Faith should not be denied the excitement of London, with its routs, balls and soireés. Faith was so pretty. She would cause quite a stir, and would enjoy the whirlwind of a Season so much. Honor’s mind skittered away at the thought of her own Season, some years ago, which had ended in disgrace. Faith’s come-out would be far more successful. Why couldn’t her stepfather trust her to find a suitable husband? He seemed too panicked to consider things carefully.
“I shall speak to Mama. We might wrangle a Season out of Father yet.” Honor opened the birdcage and removed the water tray to refill it.
“You are wasting your time.” Faith stood and picked up her shawl. “If anyone needs me I’ll be on that walk.”
Review by Francine Howarth
Lady Honor’s Debt
It’s 1822 Kent (England) and Lady Honor Baxendale, a self-confessed ugly duckling, fails to see anything remotely attractive in her mirrored reflection. Convinced her destiny is that of spinsterhood, nonetheless she is far from immune to attractive male faces. She nonetheless masks any notion of interest in the one man who proves to be a reliable friend and trusted confidante. The truth of her reluctance to engage in a meaningful relationship lies in her past, for once bitten by the romance bug and her heart thus duly broken by a rotten cad, she is determined never to fall prey to a scoundrel again. And yet, she is bravely in pursuit of a dastardly scoundrel for reasons I cannot reveal, else I shall spoil the plot. Suffice to say, and befitting the times, a suitor of means is keening her hand and lurking in the wings, and all whilst another who admires her immensely plays a trump ace in a final attempt to bring the self-imposed ugly duckling forth from her reluctant hiding place. This is a novella fittingly true to the concept of a short read that must be a complete story, sometimes spanning weeks, months, and years, therefore novellas are much harder to pen than full-length novels because every aspect of the story requires short scene takes, concise descriptions, and for the most part, dialogue driven plots work well for the Regency genre.