This is the best Erica Ridley book I've read so far - and I've read a large number! Why? Because I've learnt a lot of new things about life and shopping in the Regency age. I had no idea that there were so many different weights and measures around in this time. and I've discovered the origin of why the American gallon is not an English gallon. All of which was very mysterious before. So in real life there was an Act of Parliament in 1824 that laid down the exact weights for measures in the UK. A gallon was to be measured as the volume of 10 pounds of distilled water weighed at 62 degrees Fahrenheit, with a barometer pressure of 30 inches or 277.274 cubic inches. So very precise! The old Troy pound was later restricted as being used only to weigh drugs, precious metal and jewels. But it was not until 1963 that the rod and chaldron (who has ever heard of that?! But it was apparently a measure of coal being 36 bushels), were finally abolished. Now isn't that fascinating? But to add to the confusion, the American weights and measures guys adopted the units the English used before 1824. This means that an American gallon is based on the Queen Anne wine gallon of 231 cubic inches and is thus 17% smaller than the English. The Old English (Queen Anne) Wine Gallon was standardized as 231 in3 (133 fl oz) in the 1706 Act 5 Anne c27, but it differed before that, as an example the London 'Guildhall' gallon before 1688 was 129.19 fl oz. And the US bushel is 3% smaller; with the American dry pint being .551 cubic decimeters and the English keeping the wet and dry pint the same at .586 cubic decimeters. Yes the wet American is the same as the English to confuse us all... I do hope everyone followed all of that! So for me, the story was in the usual good form of Erica with a great heroine and a somewhat bemused hero but for me, being a history buff, the weights and measures issue sent me off into research land which doesn't often happen these days. Well done Erica!
Once upon a time there was an Earl who need a bride in order to inherit his estate and sort out the mess and debts his profligate father and forebears had left him with. But where was he to get one? With money? And in need of a hasty marriage and preferably without the need for a marriage bed.
Not that he swung that way, but more that he couldn’t be bothered to have a real wife who would need him to do things with him.
And then there was a girl – or young woman more like, who also needed a hasty marriage, but she didn’t really have a fortune and to cap it all was American! And Trade! So not really a suitable marriage prospect at all.
But as with these novels the two were brought together and a marriage of convenience for them both, was organised.
A nice novel in this genre wit some amusing touches and well written even if sticking closely to the script. I like these as long as the heroine doesn’t simper, and this one didn’t!
We met Penelope before – the scientist who creates perfumes in the castle – somewhat messy and unusual indeed in being a ‘lady’ chemist at these times., in book #1.
Here we find her having successfully created a perfume for men that has proved to be a scent for the male tonthat has taken them by storm – and has made her notable.
Now she has to make a female perfume that will do the same.
Another of Erica’s heroines that is naturally a scientist in an era when women were not that educated and one we can empathise with, one who is a natural philosopher as those who worked with natural essences were called, and one who experimented in a laboratory. A grand example for our own girls.
I always enjoy a novel by Erica Ridley. They are light but also have great heroines who are not conforming to the societal norm. which i approve of. She doesn’t attempt to copy Georgette Heyer even though the books are set in the same time period. Rather she makes the time period her own creation, and this series of short novels is a grand idea – 12 before Xmas – quick writing!
But perhaps that isn’t all he is. Perhaps he is egalitarian as to who he admits – to lose money – everyone welcome as long as you can pay.
Erica has chosen a topic here for this latest in her ‘naughty’ Lords series which doesn’t sit well with me. And her heroine helps her ‘Lord’ with her mathematical skills – for which we have to laud her – to work out how to make the most profit from the games of chance. Or that is, how to get people to lose the most cash…
But we do like Max – we have met him before in other books in this series, as he does have another side, which is softer and does help those who have fallen on hard times – and not by gambling!
So Bryony, the final sibling meets her match and also the tenant of her property which gives her a goodly amount of profit – which goes back into her sister’s school. Bad turned into good?
What I like most about Erica Ridley’s books is that she is true to the times. She writes with the ‘correct’ Regency novel phrasing – as invented by Georgette Heyer and attempts to echo the correct speech mannerisms using some phrases and words which were in common use then, but no longer. She accurately reflects some of societal issues and events – as far as is possible whilst writing a modern novel.
That said, I thought that the story contained some interesting reflections and reminders about the lot of girls born into the slums. The story told us not only about the hierarchy of the Underworld and criminals but that girls had little choice but to work in brothels and get the ‘pox’ from a very young age,; work in the cotton mills (or similar) and get a lung disease; or learn to be thieves. Remember that the phrase ‘mad as a hatter’ came from the lead poisoning that working in a hat factory brought with it and the subsequent brain deterioration.
So thieving was perhaps the best option for them.
‘Respectable’ trades required references, from scullery maid to shopgirl and unless you had a reference you couldn’t obtain legal work.
The sadness of being dirty, hungry, lice ridden and without belongings was brought out clearly – no belongings because a. you had probably stolen what you had from other, and b. they stole it back…
I felt very much for the female character in this novel and thought that she had made the very best of her sad life.