Publication date: 30th March 2017
(Roxton Family Saga, #5)
Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian, 1777)
The Roxtons are back! Romance. Drama. Intrigue. Family secrets. There’s never a dull moment for the 18th Century’s first family…
Widowed and destitute, Lady Mary Cavendish is left with only her pride. Daughter of an earl and great-granddaughter to a Stuart King, family expectation and obligation demands she remarry. But not just any man will do; her husband must rank among the nobility. Falling in love with her handsome and enigmatic neighbor is out of the question. As always, Mary will do her duty and ignore her heart.
Country squire Christopher Bryce has secretly loved his neighbor Mary for many years. Yet, he is resigned to the cruel reality they are not social equals and thus can never share a future together. Never mind that his scandalous past and a heartbreaking secret make him thoroughly unworthy of such a proud beauty.
Then into their lives steps a ghost from Mary’s past, whose outrageous behavior has Mary questioning her worldview, and Christopher acting upon his feelings, and for all to see. The mismatched couple begin to wonder if in fact love can prevail—that a happily ever after might just be possible if only they dare to follow their hearts.
Mary and Christopher’s story can be read as a standalone and fans of the series will delight in being reacquainted with the fascinating, always surprising and never ordinary members of the Roxton family.
Stand-alone fifth book in the highly acclaimed ROXTON FAMILY SAGA
152,000 words, about 600 standard pages (not including bonus material)
Non-explicit, mild sensuality
This is the 5th book in Lucinda Brant’s superb Roxton Family Saga series and, once again, I was totally captivated by Christopher and Mary’s tender and beautiful love story. While this book can be read as a standalone, I know reading the previous books in the series will not only enhance your enjoyment of PROUD MARY, but they are all wonderful books in their own right and shouldn’t be missed.
I always lose myself in one of Ms. Brant’s books, because she writes such intelligent and intricately layered stories with finely-drawn characters, and always makes me feel as if I am stepping back in time and experiencing life through her characters’ eyes.
I invariably fall in love with her heroes and Christopher is no exception. Apart from being handsome and sexy, he is also kind, generous, sincere and fair. You see this in the benevolent way he treats his tenants and workers; the way he compliments Mary on her skill at embroidery and as an artist, something no one else has ever done; the positive way he treats Teddy while her father was dismissive because she wasn’t a boy.
When the eighteen-year-old Christopher discovers the truth surrounding his birth, I could understand the anger and sense of betrayal he feels towards the two people he loved and trusted. He sees himself as ‘a bastard, the ill-begotten fruit of an illicit affair between two adulterers.’ His answer is to run away, something that youngsters with problems still do today. I couldn’t condemn him for his choice of employment whilst abroad. Alone and destitute, he uses the only assets he has. He knows that while his position is perfectly respectable in Italian society, it would be deemed scandalous by English society. It is no surprise that, once he returns home and assumes his position as Squire Christopher Bryce, he wants to keep his family secret and scandalous past well hidden.
Mary is such a sympathetic character. No wonder she is so docile and lacking in confidence given her rigid upbringing; a childhood spent with an overbearing mother who constantly drummed into her the correct social rules; a mother who still dominates her life. Then, marriage to the odious, self-centred Sir Gerald not only compounded her insecurities, but also left her believing she is emotionally and physically cold and incapable of enjoying intimacy.
Mary is a wonderful mother and her love for Teddy shines through, and I admire her determination to give her daughter a very different childhood to her own.
…if climbing trees and riding astride and being outdoors all day made Teddy happy, then she, as her mother, would do her best to see that she could do those things
As with all Ms. Brant’s books, the romance is beautifully written; tender, romantic and sensual, without being overtly explicit. I love how Christopher and Mary each let down their guards and confide in each other about their pasts and how Mary is willing to accept Christopher’s past and sees only the man he is now.
“I truly do not mind about your past; it is who I see before me that matters.”
The unexpected return of someone, thought long dead, provides a definite obstacle to the romance or, perhaps not!
It is heart-warming to see Mary’s new-found confidence, happiness and contentment knowing that she is truly loved.
She looked confident and content, and it radiated. He smiled to himself as he sipped his tea, at the small part he had played in her new-found self-assurance and happiness.
One of my favourite scenes is where Mary finally stands up to her appalling mother and I was positively whooping when Julian, as head of the family, gives Lady Fitzstuart an ultimatum!
I applaud Ms. Brant for not making the issue of their differing social status conveniently disappear like a puff of smoke, but she deals with it in a realistic way. Mary is aware that she will no longer be accepted by certain elements of society, but she and Christopher are content to live in the depths of Gloucestershire, and, as their marriage is accepted and supported by the Roxton family, that is all that matters.
I adore the tomboyish Teddy and how she loves Uncle Bryce as much as her true uncles. There is one very poignant scene where she gives Christopher’s Aunt Kate, who is virtually blind, a personally embroidered pocket for her handkerchief.
I hated Sir Gerald for so cruelly using his daughter as a means of gaining revenge on the Duke of Roxton (Julian).
Poor Julian is often misunderstood and so I was pleased that Christopher immediately sees him as a good and honest man, one he would willingly trust with his life. I love the unlikely friendship that develops between the two men, but perhaps it is not so surprising as Mary observes…
…both were sticklers for exactness and truthfulness, both were honorable and honest, and both could be frustratingly pedantic at times.
I enjoyed all the secondary threads running through the story, the twists and surprises and the welcome appearance of familiar members of the Roxton family, especially Antonia, who seems to steal every scene she graces.
To my delight, there is also a charming Epilogue and is it possible that Teddy and Jack might get a book in the future? I do hope so.
MY VERDICT: Another superb book to add to an equally superb series. If you have not yet read this series, then you have many hours of wonderful storytelling to look forward to. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
REVIEW RATING: STELLAR 5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: SUBTLE
Roxton Family Saga – series so far (click on the book covers for more details):
**I received a complimentary copy from the author in return for an honest review**