I knew this book was going to be good right from the very first page. The year is 1908 in London. Lucy Eastlake is an Operetta singer who has been raised by her spinster great – aunts: Lavinia and Bernice.
Fifty years ago Lavinia was trapped during the siege of Patnimba. She fell in love with a man promised to another and so she never married and pined for Lord John all these years. On the flip side of that, after helping a young man during the siege, the group was handed a fortune in rubies for safe keeping. If, in fifty years’ time, the young man had not reclaimed them, the survivors were to split the profits amongst themselves.
Well, fifty years has passed and Lucy is so relieved that her aunt can now claim her inheritance. She and their household are in financial straits and this money is much needed. The catch? They must travel to a Pyrenees town to claim the rubies.
Enter Ptolemy Archibald Grant. He is a professor, and his grandfather also holds a share of the rubies, and is in fact Lavinia's long lost love. When Lucy meets Ptolemy she nicknames him Archie. Archie is standing in for his grandfather and making the trip to claim the rubies.
So, that is the set up.
From this point on things go from bad to worse. Lucy is separated from her aunts and employs the help of an actor who is a female impersonator and damned good one. Lucy also finds herself traveling with Archie as they try to catch up to her aunts.
Sea sickness, gypsies, and other various screwball adventures ensue.
But, there is a little twist of irony. History could be repeating itself with Lucy and Archie being in a somewhat parallel situation as Lavinia and Lord John. Archie is engaged to be married but is falling in love with Lucy. Will he make the same decision as his grandfather and marry the woman who is expecting a marriage proposal from him or will he follow his heart?
This story is loaded with sharp, witty, humorous dialogue. Bernice and Lavinia are so funny and eccentric, you will just love them. “Margery” steals the show on a few occasions and Lucy is just a delight. She is so vivacious, quick on her feet, and sings like a ...well, a songbird. Archie is perfectly stoic and stuffy as one might stereotypically think of a professor. He has never really lived. He has been shaped to ignore his creative side and Lucy is nearly more than his senses can handle. So he wars within himself through his entire journey with Lucy, often forgetting all about his job and his soon to be betrothed. Then he wakes up and temporarily “comes to his senses” only to be overwhelmed by Lucy once again.
This is a delightful historical romance from one of my favorite authors. Connie is a seasoned author with many novels in various genres under her belt. For me, her forte is historical romance and her style is always light and engaging. Her sense of humor is seamless and never forced. I was sucked right into the story from the first page to the last, having the sensation of being as much a part of the adventure as the characters. The atmosphere, language, clothing, and modes of travel were so authentic to the Edwardian period. Which these days is quite refreshing. I love it when the author has obviously done their homework and keeps the era in mind when writing dialogue. This adds a charm to the story that would otherwise be missing.
If you are a fan of Downton Abbey you will really love this story.
Effervescent bon vivant Lucy Eastlake is a young operetta singer whose star is on the rise in Edwardian London. Though struggling to maintain her beloved great-aunts’ household, she holds fast to the belief that “things will work out.” Now, with the fiftieth anniversary of a siege her great-aunt Lavinia lived through approaching, it looks like Lucy is right, because a fortune is due to be divided among the survivors. All Lucy and her great-aunts have to do is travel to a small Pyrenees town to claim Lavinia’s share of a fabulous treasure in rubies. What could be more simple?
Professor Ptolemy Archibald Grant is the brilliant, straitlaced grandson of a British lord who also withstood the siege. When his grandfather asks him as a matter of honor to escort his old love on the journey, the about-to-be married professor agrees, not expecting Lucy to be part of the bargain. Losing the great-aunts en route, the handsome, buttoned-down professor finds himself caught up in Lucy’s quirky, bewildering, and probably illegal efforts to reunite with them, as he is drawn further and further into an inexplicable infatuation with the free-spirited singer. What could be more complicated?
But when unwilling attraction gives way to sizzling passion, both will be forced to confront the ages-old question of whether love trumps honor…or the other way around.