Book Review: A Lady’s Code of Misconduct

 

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Once a villain, always a villain, right? Or can a ruthless, conniving young man consumed with ambition and a lust for power suddenly change with a snap of the fingers, or in this case, with a blow to the head? In the new novel A Lady’s Code of Misconduct, by Meredith Duran, rising political star Crispin Burke’s life changes overnight when he is attacked in the dead of night and suffers an injury that leaves him with no memory of the past few months. He doesn’t even remember marrying his lovely young wife, Jane Mason, the niece of one of his former allies in Parliament. Despite his memory loss, he is determined to his best foot forward and become the great politician he had hoped to be before his unfortunate accident. And who better to help him than the woman he trusts most, his young bride, because after all behind every great man is a great woman, right?

Rewind, though, because not everything is as neat and tidy as it seems. Jane isn’t really Crispin’s wife…not technically, anyhow. Before Crispin’s little mishap, Jane, desperate to avoid marrying her cousin who wants nothing more than to inherit her substantial fortune, makes a deal with Crispin: he will obtain a false marriage license for her in exchange for whatever information she can glean from eavesdropping on her uncle’s conversations. She’s so close to freedom…if she can find a man willing to marry her and then part ways. But Jane isn’t so lucky, and upon hearing that Crispin will most likely not survive the attack, takes matters into her owns hands and signs his name to the marriage license. When Crispin wakes up with no memory of the past few months, Jane knows she eventually has to tell him the truth. But she never thought that she would start to have feelings for him…or that he would start to have feelings for her and rely upon her as his partner and helpmeet, despite the circumstances of their marriage.

As Jane and Crispin begin to grow accustomed to their new life together, Parliament still beckons. Crispin is shocked by the harsh prison reform bill he had supported before his attack, and with Jane’s help, he seeks to set things right and withdraw support from the bill. But as he and Jane investigate his past dealings, they begin to see that there are other forces at play behind the politics. And the more they uncover, the more danger they find themselves in. The only way they can get through this is together, and events threaten to test their blossoming love for one another.

Duran captures the domestic and political intrigues of mid-Victorian London perfectly, from the deals made in back offices over brandy and cigars to the show put on in glittering ballrooms in between dances. The best part of the book is the relationship between Crispin and Jane, and how they transition from young bride and groom to a supercouple determined to use their power and influence for the common good rather than for their own gain. A Lady’s COde o my Misconduct has not only the romance that so many love, but provides some reassurance that there are people who enter politics with the honest desire to make a difference and do some good for those who need it.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Book Review: The Magistrate’s Folly, by Lisa Karon Richardson

The setting of colonial Williamsburg and the impending American Revolution provide the backdrop for The Magistrate’s Folly, an historical romance by author Lisa Karon Richardson.

Merry Lattimore, a young governess, stands accused of theft by her former employer, though she insists she’s innocent of the charges. Despite this, she’s sentenced to a term of indentured servitude in the American colonies by no other than the man whom she had once loved and wished to marry, Graham Sinclair. When discovers that Merry is innocent of the charges, he realizes his mistake. He secures a pardon for her, then boards a ship to Williamsburg to see if he might find her and ensure that she not only receives the pardon, but because he wishes to redeem himself in her eyes.

Magistrate's Folly book cover

Cover of novel. Image via Amazon.

Meanwhile, Merry has been bought by the Bennings, a kind, wealthy local family, to serve as both governess and nursemaid to the children. Merry, who gained knowledge of herbs and nursing the sick through helping her father, a doctor, proves invaluable when the children fall ill. Under her care, they survive, and the Bennings are thankful to have Merry in their household. But just as the children recover, Graham arrives at the Benning home with Merry’s pardon in hand. Now free, Merry could leave and go wherever she wished, but she is loyal to the children in her care and is reluctant to leave. Mrs. Benning offers to let Merry stay as a guest in the home so that she can figure out where to go from here. Things begin to look up until tragedy strikes. Mr. Benning falls ill and dies after drinking his sleeping draught, which was poisoned. The woman accused of the murder is a fellow slave named Jerusha, who is arrested on the grounds that she had a perfect motive for the murder: Mr. Benning was going to sell her young son in a slave auction.

Merry knows that Jerusha isn’t guilty of the murder, and she promises to help Jerusha in any way she can. She goes to Graham about the situation, and he decides to defend Jerusha at trial. Together, he and Merry work together to investigate the murder and determine who the real killer is, so that Jerusha will be cleared of all charges. As the two work together, they begin to open up to each other about what happened so many years ago. Their partnership is one of equals working toward the same mission. Graham is defending Jerusha because he wishes to redeem himself and to prevent another innocent person from being wrongly convicted. Merry is keeping a promise she made to Jerusha and can empathize with her situation, her own pleas of innocence having fallen on deaf ears. As they work as equal partners toward one common goal, they begin to see each other in a different light, and the feelings they both had thought were long since dead are rekindled.

Richardson’s characters are very compelling, and throughout the narrative, she drops little tidbits of historical detail so you have know what exactly was going on at the time. The love story and the mystery both drive the plot to a very satisfying end that is full of promise for the two protagonists. All in all, a wonderful read, and I highly recommend it.