Escaping from Bath and the news that her former love is about to marry another, Isabel, the young widowed Marchioness of Axbridge, accepts an invitation to her cousin’s house party. Yet, instead of finding respite, she stumbles into a domestic crisis of majestic proportions: The kitchen servants have succumbed to the influenza.
If that weren’t bad enough, her former sweetheart arrives with his fiancée, seeking shelter from the increasingly hazardous snow storm. Trapped inside Chernock Hall with a volatile mix of house guests, including abolitionists and slave owners, Isabel wishes she could hide below stairs for the duration. But, alas, she cannot. While helping in the kitchen, Isabel is cornered by her cousin’s disreputable friend, Marcus Bateman, who challenges and provokes her at every turn.
At last, the storm subsides. However, the avalanche of repercussions cannot be undone. Caught in the grip of the terrible winter of 1813, will Isabel’s greatest threat come from the weather, her abolitionist views, or from falling in love again?
Recently I’ve been enjoying what seems like a renewed interest in more traditional historical romances (such as recent books by Mimi Matthews). There should be a place in the historical romance genre for books with more traditional language and behaviour – not everything has to be modernised all the time!
Set in the winter of 1813, A Marchioness Below Stairs is another historical romance marketed as more of a traditional Regency.
Interestingly, the perspective is not evenly shared, and we get to see more of how the heroine experiences everything. We see how she interprets situations where the hero is present.
I appreciated that the book (set in Britain!) is written in British English. This is something so rare in historical romance these days I always get a shock when I see it, and it makes such a big difference in creating the atmosphere.
Obviously, for this particular book readers will have to suspend their disbelief of having a marchioness – a very highly-ranked member of the aristocracy – running the kitchen of a great house. This isn’t something a reader will usually expect from one of the highest-ranked members of the aristocracy.
However, bring on more traditional historical romances. Hopefully they will again find a home with bigger publishers some time in the future.
Review copy provided by the author.