Jane Spencer is amongst a group of travellers who are forced to delay their journey due to a snowstorm.
Their stage coach is unable to continue its journey through the storm and its passengers are forced to get out and walk to a nearby inn.
Jane comes across a unconscious man, the victim of highwaymen, lying half dead in the snow.
The man awakes not knowing who he is and is unable to recognize his only possession: a magnificent jewel-encrusted snuff box.
Jane nurses him and helps him return to London. But, just as she starts to care for him, he disappears just as suddenly as he appeared in her life, leaving only his snuff box in her possession.
On discovering a letter hidden in a secret compartment in the snuff box, she entrusts her lawyer to the care of it. Little does she know that this letter holds the key to a growing mystery.
Jane takes up employment as a companion for an Earl’s wife. Unaware of her acquaintance with his wife, Lady Celia, she is shocked to discover the lady is none other than the girl who caused endless trouble during their schooldays.
As the days unfold in her new employment, Jane comes face to face again with the unknown man, who she comes to identify as being Sir Richard Carisbrooke.
Her feelings for him continue to grow, yet she is forced to hide them as it appears Sir Richard is enamoured by Celia herself.
As they mystery unfolds, Jane’s employment as a companion becomes unbearable. She is placed in an awkward situation and is forced to make decisions – ones that may affect the rest of life…
These vintage Regency romances hover somewhere between Jane Austen and the genre as we know it today. You must adjust your mindset to read them, but I really do enjoy them.
The Jewelled Snuff Box (first published 1959) is my second read by Alice Chetwynd Ley. I really enjoyed the other one I read, and so was excited to start it. I think it takes a couple of chapters to adjust to the different, older style, but I appreciate Regency stories that feel more like they really belong in that era.
Something that is different to modern Regencies is that there is much more going on than just the relationship between hero and heroine. As in Jane Austen’s books, the romantic leads spend at least as much time apart as they do together.
I’m no fan of amnesia plotlines, because they are never a true depiction of the condition – not even close. However, this was probably the best attempt at using that theme I’ve read so far, and it wasn’t drawn out for too long.
I liked that the book’s heroine had a strong, quiet dignity about her and stayed true to her values no matter what obstacles were thrown her way. I think this is a much stronger character type than those anachronistic rule-breakers we have tearing hatless and gloveless through London in so many recent books.
While this book won’t be for everyone, I am looking forward to reading more from this author.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.