I thoroughly enjoyed reading "A Marchioness Below Stairs” as I have not read a Regency romance in a while, I found this one enthralling and interesting. It was full of refined women, a rake, secrets, slave owner and a few handsome heroes mixed with the lovely language and history of the time in which it was set. Overall a very well written book that I would recommend to anyone that loves to read historical romance, I am giving my honest and voluntary review of this book that I won. The book had a lot of educational information about abolitionists, the slave trade and about the British upper class of the early 1800’s. The main character’s life was very relatable to the slaves of this time as she too was sold by her father to a very wealthy man in a marriage to benefit the family, not for love. I have not read any other books by this author but will be on the lookout for her other books in the future, I believe there is a prequel to this book called the “Lord Fenmore’s Wager”.
Isabel is a wealthy marchioness widow who was forced to marry her elderly husband and made to give up her one true love to marry another more wealthy man by her father. Since her husband’s death she is now free to make her own decisions in life and follow her beliefs and passions, freedom are finally hers alone. One of these passions is to not be married again as it’s the last thing she wants, as by the law of her time her freedom would be given over to her husband to control her life. But as it was in that time and era others believe she can’t be happy without a husband.
Isabel has hope that her former love Lord Fenmore will still show some interest in her until she learns he has a new fiancée. She decides to go with her mother to her Cousin George’s house party at Charnock Hall with the hope of escaping any gossip from her home of Bath. Soon after they arrive at the Hall falls into chaos as the kitchen staff all fall ill and Isabel soon finds herself below stairs in the kitchen preparing the meals. This is not a thing a lady of her time would do so it was kept a secret from the other house guess that were all snowed in for many days with some unexpected guess as well who turned up for shelter and turn out to be her former fiancée. It was a mix of guess from slave owners, notorious plantation owner, lost loves and abolitionists. Isabel was happy to stay below the stairs for most of the days until Marcus Batman offered to help his friend and business partner George out by going down to the kitchen as well to help has he had learned how to cook during his exile to America many years ago.
Mr Batman provoked and challenged Isabel at every turn and it was I bit of a like hate friendship revolving between the two for the short time they were working together. Isabel had very strong abolitionist views and wanted to do all she could to stop the slave trade. Isabel found it hard to trust or understand how Mr Bateman could feel the same as she did about abolition but still befriend and visit the Wetherby’s who was a plantation owners.
Simmonds is Isabel’s ladies maid and I just love some of their interactions and situation between them both. I was very surprised that Isabel had no other suitor while she was in London during the season as she was still very young for a widow at only 27.
Will Marcus Bateman worm his way into her heart and life or will she keep him at a distance to keep her independence. Isabel liked to push the boundaries of her placement is the society of her time by taking cooking lessons and quoting quotes by lower members of society and following their teachings, she was a forward thinking woman of her time. But would the ultimate dream that most women have in any time era be hers as well “finding the one man that would love her for her alone”?
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