|Her Ladyship's Companion|
LOVE AND PERIL ON THE CLIFFS OF CORNWALL — Beautiful Melissa Rivenwood was leaving Mrs. Brody's Seminary for the Daughters of Gentlemen for a new life. But when she accepted the position as companion to the formidable Lady Dorothy, spirited Melissa could not have known that she would soon be caught up in a web of passion and intrigue at beautiful and remote Vinton Manor.You might wonder why Her Ladyship's Companion is Spymaster #0? Well, that's because this book is actually where Hawk's character is introduced -- Sir Adrian Hawkhurst that adorable teenager and later awesome spy! In this story he is an adult, and of course he's an investigator and Giles Tarsin's friend, not the hero of the piece, but nevertheless a fascinating character.
Giles Tarsin, her haughty employer, is maddeningly aloof--and irresistibly attractive. Darkly handsome Sir Adrian Hawkhurst admires her undisguisedly with, Melissa suspects, the most impure intentions. Harold Bosworth, a family connection, appears to be ever the gentleman. But why is seven-year-old Robbie, an orphan like Melissa and the future Earl of Keptford, so terrified? Before long, Melissa is struggling to unravel dark family secrets that will lead her suspicions to center on just one man...the one man she loves!
Her Ladyship's Companion was written by Joanna Bourne and first published in 1983, and it was one of her early books. There is much to like about this historical, for example I enjoyed Bourne's prose and love how she sets the tone for the gothic atmosphere that permeates the whole story. The male characters, both Giles and Adrian, are early examples of Bourne's later characterization of Spymaster males, and of course there's a certain ruthlessness of character to some of the secondary characters (one female in particular) that did not come as a surprise at all.
The plot itself is not the greatest in my opinion. It is a Gothic historical and there's a certain level of predictability in how it is developed, plus lack of those fine details found in Bourne's later works. However, I do believe that some of my concerns about the story are mainly due to the female protagonist, Melissa Rivenwood. Melissa is sadly lacking in judgment and not necessarily the brightest bulb when it comes to deduction. She's impulsive and doesn't trust her instincts, so that when she makes mistakes they have dire consequences. The romance itself seems a bit unlikely if Melissa's doubts about Giles and her actions are taken into consideration.
All of the above makes for a slightly above average historical romance read. But was Her Ladyship's Companion worth reading? Absolutely. I enjoyed it regardless of its flaws. For me the best reason to read this book is that it is one of Joanna Bourne's early works and that it is the building block to what would later become her fantastic Spymaster series. I absolutely recommend it for fans of the series and this author.
NOTE: At Amazon, a new print copy of this book is going for $1,049.29! A used print copy for $26.52, and the ebook edition for $3.99.
Category: Historical Romance
Series: Spymaster Series #0
Publisher/Release Date: Regency Reads/January 10, 2012 - Kindle Ed.