The Mysterious Maid-Servant (Barbara Cartland)

4 out of 5 stars

Cut to the Chase:
This is a sweet regency romance that has plenty of plot twists. It’s a good representation of the time period in both the details (plenty of small historical personages and events thrown in) as well as the way the story’s told (there’s very little kissing, etc which feels fairly appropriate). The romance happens almost without anyone realizing it, but is still sweet and mostly believable. It’s a Cinderella story, told in Regency style and time period, sweet, with a few plot twists, and a very, very quick read.

Greater Detail:
Giselda is a 19-year-old lady who has clearly fallen on hard times. She’s well-educated, talented, beautiful, but at the start of the novel, so malnourished that her hair has thinned and her cheeks are gaunt. She meets our hero, the Earl of Lyndhurst, while cleaning out the fire grate, and ends up nursing his wounds (he almost lost his leg in the most recent battles).

Initially, both the Earl and Giselda view one another merely as patient/nurse and employer/employee. It is only after Giselda comes to the Earl, saying she’s desperate for money and willing to sell her innocence in order to earn 50 pounds (the fee necessary for her young brother to receive a surgery), that things intensify. The Earl is initially shocked, and completely unsure of what to do… when he is suddenly presented with another problem: his heir, a cousin who has lived a profligate lifestyle, is chasing after an entirely inappropriate heiress. Thinking that he’ll solve Giselda’s problem and also teach his cousin a lesson at the same time, he hires Giselda to play a rich widow… he buys her clothes, she’s well-fed and soon begins to develop feelings for her…

For such a short book (176 pages) there were actually a lot of plot twists and plenty of secondary characters. It was fun and interesting in a very calming/sweet way. I didn’t feel a huge pull to read it all at once, but I found it soothing and sweet (though there were definitely times when the main character seemed to border on chauvinistic/controlling, which was believable, but wasn’t a characteristic I particularly enjoyed).

Comparison to Other Authors:
This is my first Barbara Cartland book. I found that there were a LOT of historical details (not in a bad way) and a very sweet, slow-paced love story… similar to some earlier Mary Balogh, or Betty Neels (who wrote in more contemporary time periods, but had a similar feel/style).

Posted in Romance

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