Lady Elizabeth's Cometby Sheila Simonson
Elizabeth Conway's greatest ambition is to discover a comet. Unfortunately, she is the eldest of eight daughters of an earl, so her relative expect her to take her rightful place in Society. The heavenly bodies she views through her telescope hold far more fascination for Elizabeth than any mere male, although her perpetual beau, dashing Lord Bevis, would change that if he could. When Tom Conroy, a distant cousin and the new Earl of Clanross, appears after a year's delay, Elizabeth offers him a cool welcome. He is a dull stick and ill-mannered to boot. Yet he is the only man who has shown respect for her astronomical work, and his concern for her younger sisters' welfare reveals a different side to him. Then his heir, Elizabeth's cousin Willoughby, appears with the obvious intent of making a match between his lovely but silly sister and Clanross--and with making as much mischief as he can. Lord Bevis presses his suit with Lady Elizabeth, until she agrees, at long last, to marry him. She resists making an announcement, though, until he tells his somewhat traditional father that he will not only be marrying an heiress but her telescope. Elizabeth discovers a comet. Clanross proclaims his pride in her accomplishment, but Lord Bevis's reaction is far more traditional. Willoughby introduces a beautiful woman into the mix and the twins further complicate it. Distraught, confused, perhaps even heartbroken, Elizabeth faces the question of what to do with the rest of her life. And what to do about Clanross, whom she just might love.
- Grand Central Publishing
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How came I to feel so strongly? I had not loved Clanross when I poured laudanum down his throat. My feeling for Clanross was not an overnight flower. It had been growing for some time. When was it planted?
It happened, I reflected, after he started walking the grounds and bathing in the lake and began to feel better and look less wan and sleepless. It is a dreadful thing for a woman of intellect to admit so physical a criterion for love. I wanted to evade the fact but there it was. I was a mere animal after all, drawn by a bright eye and a healthy complexion. Alas. I knew that I had persuaded myself to love Bevis the better because he was beautiful. Clanross was not, but he was now far from being an antidote, and he had very fine eyes. And excellent shoulders and well-shaped, long-fingered hands, and a pleasant voice, too.
Of course I had liked him for a long time--since he had organised the dinner for the Chactons and put Willoughby's nose out of joint. Clanross was a generous, civilised man with a lively sense of humour and a sharp mind. I liked him enormously.
But he thinks of you as a combination of Galileo and his nanny, I told myself, suppressing a strong wish to howl, and he is consulting Aunt Whitby about suitable brides.
With a stab I recalled making up my mind to find him a wife. "Not Cecilia." Of all the wrongheaded, arrogant, blind, feebleminded nitwits. Oh, wretched, wretched woman. Complete ninnyhammer. Goat. I abused myself roundly. At least Cecilia knew her own feelings.
As I lay staring up at the blonde satin bedhangings it crossed my mind that I might as well be at the bottom of the ornamental lake at Brecon. It is a curious fact that if oneweeps while lying on one's back the tears eventually trickle into one's ears.
There was no doubt that I loved Clanross. Like, love, lust--I was deep in all three with very little idea how I had come to such a predicament. I believed Clanross liked me, at least sufficiently to enjoy our exchanges and chess games. Try as I might, however, I could not push the evidence beyond that.
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This is one of those low-key character-driven Regencies in which all the action is internal--no races to Gretna, no kidnappings, no Gothic hauntings. Just two decent people figuring out they're in love. Our hero is the new Earl of Clanross. He was badly injured during the war and his ill health is what initially brings the H/H together. He was also Engaged in Trade, which earns the scorn of the snooty heroine, Elizabeth. Elizabeth is a bluestocking spinster, but she doesn't parade around her spinster-hood or her scholarship. In fact, she's resigned to the first and hesitant to discuss the latter. In a fit of desperation, Elizabeth agrees to marry her friend, a long-time flirt, only to discover that the duke she has scorned and maligned is actually the one she loves. Elizabeth is a prickly heroine, and she may be a bit off-putting at first. But Simonson does an excellent job of showing how she learns from her mistakes and becomes worthy of the hero's regard. The hero is the strong, stoic type. Simonson shows his decency and goodness in a dozen small ways without being treacly. There are no pretensions to rakishness--it's all about the hard work of being strong and honorable man who's been given more than his fair share of pain and misery. If you like trads by Susanna Fraser, Rose Lerner, and Emily May, you should definitely give this one a try. It's a keeper.
This author is one of my favorites for Regencies. I was delighted to find her books available for Nook as I could not find them again in print.