Lady Beauchamp’s Proposal, by Amy Rose Bennett, had me from the first page. The author beautifully captures Beth’s desperate courage, and when her sleazy husband enters (on the next page) the atmosphere ratchets up another notch.
Elizabeth is the neglected and ignored wife of the dissolute Lord Beauchamp. When she escaped from him before he can infect her with syphilis, she runs as far as she can, applying for a job as governess in a remote castle in Scotland. There, she meets James, the Marquess of Rothsburgh, and the attraction between them is immediate.
Both James and Beth are decent people, tormented by the events of their pasts, guilty about their growing attraction, and troubled by self-doubt. It isn’t hard to care about what happens to them. As the author turns up the heat on their sensual awareness of one another, we want them to be together despite the fact that Beth is still married.
In those days marriage really was till death. That Beth’s husband is a selfish, hedonistic rat oozing a particularly nasty infection doesn’t change his legal rights to insist on keeping his wife. Beth and James can’t see any path to a happy ending except to wait, perhaps for years, and the last chapters turn the gothic screws tighter still, with Beth facing something worse than she can imagine (no spoilers – you’ll have to read it for yourself).
I loved this book, and I found the ending very satisfying.
I have two tiny niggles.
One is the speed of the ending – ten months passes between the end of one chapter and the end of the book. It worked, but it seemed rushed to me. I’d have at least liked to see a scene played out between Beth and the two sleazes, where they make their threats to her, rather than just hear about them later when she is thinking over what they said.
The other is a continuity problem; early in the book, we’re told that Beth heard about the governess job a month before the day she arrives at the castle. The person she hears talking about the job mentions that the Marquis is a recent widower. More than a fortnight after she arrives – so close to seven weeks after someone in London mentioned the death, the Marquis tells Beth his wife has been dead for eight weeks. So how did the news arrive in London so fast?
As I say; tiny.
I still loved the book. I recommend it, and I’ll be looking forward to seeing more from Amy Rose Bennett.