Onyx, our heroine, is - in the tradition of much of Kelly's writing - not of the best ton. In fact, she's illegitimate, though brought up in a good family. All her life, though, she's felt that she has to hide, and almost apologise for existing. Now, she has a proposal of marriage: a vicar, Andew Littlewood, has sought her hand. Grateful for the chance to escape her stepmother's tyranny, Onyx accepts.
En route to her fiance's home, however, her carriage is held up by a rough band of robbers who also threaten her virtue. Onyx is rescued by a shabbily-dressed soldier, who is shot and almost killed as a result. The soldier is Major Jack Beresford, returning from the Napoleonic Wars - and, it turns out, he knew Onyx's twin brother.
Onyx feels a definite bond with Jack, but what can she do? She's already engaged to another man, and anyway, once she discovers that Jack is the brother of a marquess, she knows that he's well out of her reach. She has to put him out of her mind, no matter how much he teases and flirts with her. And yet she knows that he needs her too, in several different ways - to help heal the wounds of war, both physical and mental.
Wonderful book. Carla Kelly is such a good writer. I couldn't put it down once I started.
With a nod to Mr. Collins in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, this book asks the question, How would the good vicar get a wife if the Bennett family wasnt in the neighborhood? Get ready to smile and even laugh at the answer.
Mr. Andrew Littletree has decided to take a wife; after careful analysis hes decided on the foster-daughter of Lady Daggett (married to Sir Matthew). Onyx Hamilton is ½ of the pair of illegitimate twins left at the doorstep of a Reverend Hamilton. He took them in and raised them as his own. At the time he died, Reverend Hamilton had 3 children. His wife eventually married Sir Matthew, who adopted Lady Daggetts daughter, Amethyst, but (only reluctantly) took in the twins. Gerald, Onyxs twin, has died during wartime, two years before the story begins.
Onyx and her companion (Alice) are on their way to Chalcott, and then to spend the summer cleaning and preparing a broken-down relic of a house (to be used as Onyx and Andrews home after their marriage in August).
On their way, the ladies are accosted by highwaymen, who steal what little they had and plan to assault Onyx. Major Jack Beresford, weary from 4 years of war in Spain, comes upon the scene and saves the situation. However, he is injured during the scuffle and Onyxs group from the carriage take him to a cottage, so Jack can get medical treatment.
The farmer they approach assumes Onyx and Jack are married and they do not correct him; in fact, they embellish the tale. The prose during their time at the farm is wildly funny.
Onyx has spent her life being put-down by circumstances and others; however, she is resourceful, kind and un-bowed. Jack is amusing, charming, but serious by nature and circumstance. This is a beautifully told story, full of wry wit; I enjoyed it tremendously.