John Fitzhugh Wyckerly has been on his own since he was 17 years old and making his living by gambling. He usually wins enough to live on and is quite content with his life. He’s a younger son and never expects to inherit anything, not that there is anything to inherit except debt! So, when his slightly older brother dies leaving him the title of the seventh Earl of Danescroft and all the debt that goes with it, Fitz is not thrilled. He’s even less thrilled when he stops to check on his illegitimate daughter, Penelope and realizes that he needs to remove her from where she has been living immediately. Her ill-mannered actions get them thrown off the mail coach in front of Abigail Merriweather’s small farm.
Abigail can’t help but notice a young girl child running and screaming from the mail coach. A well turned out gentleman who claims to be her father follows her. Unable to turn away the child, Abigail offers her home to the pair; the child in the house and her father in a tumbling down cottage behind it. She expects the father, Fitz, to do some work around the farm and is enraged when it appears that he is neglecting not only his daughter but the work he’s been asked to do.
Abigail has her own problems. Her father died leaving behind her 4 young half siblings. Abigail fully planned on taking care of them and raising them but the executor of the estate decided that they needed to be in a household with a man. Abigail will do whatever she can to get the children back. She’s hoping that writing to a second cousin that is a peer will help. She’s dismayed when Fitz informs her that her cousin has died.
Fitz, his daughter and Abigail find themselves on the way to London after the cousin’s wife pays a visit to Abigail’s farm. Fitz is looking for a rich wife while Abigail needs a barrister to fight to get the children back. Can they help each other in their tasks? If they act upon the attraction that they seem to feel, neither will accomplish what they must for their family.
This was an extremely well written historical that really put you into the action and into the period. References to social problems as well as the power of a title bring the era alive and give you an idea of what Abigail and Fitz were against.
A subplot to this romance is a mystery. Someone is trying to hurt Fitz and is sending some barely readable notes. Unfortunately, he has no idea who they are coming from or what they are referencing. He thinks that they may be some ruffians that his cousin hired to get rid of him but as his cousin has left for Yorkshire, he can’t even ask him. When his family and friends are put into danger, Fitz makes a point to learn who is behind these attacks. Can he learn who before someone is hurt?
Besides this mystery, there are several subplots, twists and turns going on. Abigail has a small inheritance but she can’t use it as she wants. Her siblings are not happy where they are but is there anything Abigail can do for them? Fitz is learning how to be a parent but with no money and his only skill being gambling, how is he ever going to find a rich peer to marry? Even the cousin’s widow has something going on with one of Fitz’s good friends making the plot even more complex and interesting.
Let’s see, romance, mystery, likeable characters, what else could you want? Oh yes, there are villains and chases and miscommunications and so much more. Just when you think everything will work out, another twist comes into play, not dragging the story out but adding a bit more depth and interest to the story. Why else couldn’t I put this book down until I finished it?
I really liked this first book in the new series, The Rebellious Sons. While I have no idea who the next son will be, there were several possibilities introduced in this book. These sons are not exactly your proper peers but are extremely interesting. With several to chose from, I expect to see several more books and hope to see a bit more of Fitz, Abigail and their rowdy crew.
When he becomes seventh Earl of Danecroft, rakish John Fitzhugh Wyckerly also inherits a crumbling estate and massive debts. Determined to do right, he reclaims his illegitimate daughter Penelope and heads to London in search of a very rich wife.
Abigail Merriweather's farm has been quiet since she lost custody of her four young half-siblings-until a roguish gentleman named Fitz stops for a rest, his rebellious daughter in tow. His etiquette is questionable, his parenting deplorable-so why does Abby delight in his flirtations? And when she seeks a suitor to help her regain the children, why does Fitz keep popping up?