This novella offers a unique plot; I've never read one like it. Julia, at seventeen, leaves home with her parent's permission to marry. The young nobleman calls for a vicar and has a special license. However, he soon becomes drunk and sends her home with one of his friends. As a result, Julia is ruined socially (although not physically), and she leaves her beloved home to become a companion and governess. Three years later, the young nobleman's uncle, Nick, manipulates Julia into going with him to the Continent to find Robin, the young nobleman. His father is dying, and Robin needs to take over the reins of his family and estates.
Everyone talks about the slap that Nick gives Julia. It was unfortunate; it took a long time to look with favor at Nick. He is only four years older than Robin, but he is much more mature and level-headed. Over the years, Robin sent letters to Nick, explaining that Julia was a light skirt and she had dropped him and then taken up with Robin again later. Nick's opinion of Julia was terrible, but he needed her to get his nephew back to England, where he belonged.
The story revolves around the way Julia proves her innocence. However, I was disappointed in Nick. He took up with Robin as if there were no problems. Their family had ruined Julia's life. They owed Julia so much for her suffering. Even though the slap was a device used by the author to heighten tension, I thought it fell flat. This is not one of Edith Layton's best. Overall score = G+.
Author Edith Layton
"Jilted beauty!1 Strikingly beautiful young Julia Hastings had been an inexperienced innocent when handsome, high-born Robin Marlowe induced her to elope with him-- only to abandon her without a word of explanation on what should have been their wedding night.
Julia was left with her virtue intact but her reputation in tatters. Her life became a struggle to defend herself against gentlemen who henceforth considered her easy prey.
By now Julia knew better than to trust any man, even when that man was the overwhelmingly attractive Lord Nicholas Daventry, Robin's own uncle. But if Julia had learned how dangerous blissful ignorance was in matters of the heart, she had yet to discover what folly it was to be wise...."
Written in 1985 this is a very sweet, clean regency. Heroine is misjudged by the hero but as he gets to know her, her sweetness, kindness and honesty convince him she is innocent of any wrong doing.
This is one of Layton's earlier regencies and is just as well written as the trades that came later. Her plots follow familiar formulas, but her writing is always crisp and empathetic and her characters are never anchronomic. (One of my PET PEEVES!) Pleasant read.