After a disastrous, short-lived engagement and years of caring for her ailing grandmother, Phoebe Hallsmith is resigned to spinsterhood. But if she must be unmarried, far better to be of use than languishing at home, disappointing her parents. As an employee of the Everton Domestic Society of London, Phoebe accepts a position at the country home of an old friend and discovers an estate—and a lord of the manor—in a state of complete chaos.
Losing himself in the bottle has done nothing to ease Markus Flammel’s grief over losing his wife. Not even his toddler daughter can bring him back from the brink. Now this fiery, strong-minded redhead has taken over his home, firing and hiring servants at will and arousing unexpected desire. As not one, but two, suitors suddenly vie for Phoebe’s hand, can Markus move past loss and fight for a future with the woman who has
transformed his world?
“Silky smooth prose, a fresh and fun premise and a blazingly competent heroine.”
—RT Book Reviews
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Upon arrival, an Everton lady will seek the head of household and announce her presence and purpose.
— The Everton Companion Rules of Conduct
Years in Scotland caring for Grand had kept Phoebe from Rosefield and her best friend, Emma. Along the front of the grand estate, Emma's beloved rose bushes were overgrown and the facade loomed with sorrow and loss. Hesitating on the first step, she brushed aside her imaginings about the stones mourning Emma's death.
There were no words that could comfort Markus Flammel. What would she say?
A wayward branch from the rose bush lay in her path.
Rubbing the chill of October from her arms, she took a breath, clasped her bag with her Everton lady's companion inside and pulled her shoulders back. She had faced her grandmother's recovery and eventually her death; she couldface this too.
She climbed the ten steps to the door and pushed aside her anxiety.
"This place is a bit unkempt, Phoebe." Honoria Chervil pranced up the steps beside her.
"Yes. That's part of why we are here, my lady." Phoebe grabbed the brass ring and knocked.
"We are arriving very early for paying a call. Perhaps we should have waited for the carriage to be repaired and come later with our belongings."
The hired hack rumbled back up the drive away from Rosefield. There would be no speedy escape.
Drawing a long breath, Phoebe pulled her shoulders back and her chin up. She was ready for whatever might come. "No. This is not a social call, Honoria. I did not wish to get a late start and it will take hours to have the wheel fixed at the inn. This will be better and the rest will follow this afternoon."
Glass shattered inside. Yelling and screaming and wood crashing sounded through the door.
"What on earth?" There was nothing worse than standing on the steps while screams and crashes filtered out. Phoebe pushed the door open.
As if her presence froze the scene, five pair of eyes stared at her in the threshold.
Two maids were on their knees surrounded by glass, faded flowers, and water. The round table lay in pieces behind them.
Mrs. Donnelly's bonnet was askew, her hair stuck out in all directions, and her chubby cheeks were as red as the overgrown roses in front of the house. The housekeeper scooped up a screaming toddler who was inches from getting into the dangerous glass.
Watson, the butler, stood like a statue staring at her with his hands in the air.
"What in the name of heaven is going on in here?" Phoebe never imagined her arrival would look anything like this.
Watson lowered his hands, smoothed his graying hair and approached. "I'm afraid you've caught us at an inopportune moment, my lady. The master has just arrived and we are preparing."
A maid sniffed as tears ran down her face and she used a rag to pull shards into a pile.
"Preparing for what?" Honoria asked.
"What on earth could be prepared by what I am witnessing?" Phoebe might have been out of line in questioning the staff of Rosefield before she'd even made her purpose known to Markus, but something was terribly wrong here.
Phoebe's mother had written about Emma's daughter, Elizabeth, being raised mostly by servants, but this was ridiculous. Elizabeth continued to wail as if being beaten with a stick and Mrs. Donnelly shushed her to no avail. Elizabeth grabbed a handful of Mrs. Donnelly's hair and they both shrieked until Phoebe's ears hurt.
"You might try back at another time, Miss Hallsmith." Sweat dripped down the side of Watson's long face.
Phoebe had a hundred questions, but would get no answers with the servants. What started as worry grew into annoyance, and she had to swallow down her emotions to remain calm. She turned to Mrs. Donnelly. "Madam, give me that child before she does you real harm."
Never had a woman of such girth moved with such speed. She foisted Elizabeth into Phoebe's arms. "It's not Little Elizabeth's fault, Miss. She misses her father and he —"
"That will do, Mrs. Donnelly." Watson's scolding tone stopped any further explanation and started the maid crying again.
Phoebe propped Elizabeth on her hip. "You are far too small to be causing so much chaos. I cannot imagine what your sweet momma is thinking looking down on you. Now I expect you to act like a little lady."
Just like her father, Elizabeth had large green eyes, and they were wide open staring at Phoebe. A black smudge marred her left cheek and some kind of jelly stuck all around her rosy lips and pert little nose.
"She doesn't speak, my lady, though we try to teach her," Mrs. Donnelly said.
At two years old, Elizabeth should have some vocabulary. Phoebe's heart clenched. She should have come sooner. Of course, that hadn't been an option, but it did not soothe her guilt. "Well, we need no words for the moment. I'm sure when Miss Elizabeth has something important to say, she will do so. I do not go by a title any longer. Miss Hallsmith will do."
Elizabeth relaxed and her little body conformed to Phoebe's side as if they were two parts of a whole.
"You know, your mother and I were very good friends, Elizabeth. I think that you and I will be as well, but you must behave with more manners. Shall we go see your father?" A wide smile showed off several teeth and brought a lovely pink to her sweet cheeks.
Watson stepped forward but kept enough distance as to not fall into Elizabeth's reach. "That's what started all of this, Miss. I'm afraid his lordship does not wish to see ... anyone."
A low growl issued from deep in Elizabeth's chest.
Taking another step back, Watson paled.
"Ladies do not growl, Elizabeth. Where is his lordship?" Phoebe had spent years reining in her temper and learning to act like a lady even when she wanted to tear someone's hair out. It was becoming obvious that she would need to use all she had learned to get through the next few moments.
"In the study, but as I said, Miss Hallsmith, he does not wish to be disturbed." Watson held out his arms blocking her way.
Lifting Elizabeth higher on her hip, Phoebe turned toward the study. "I could not possibly care less about what his lordship wants. Lady Chervil, will you please wait here and explain our purpose?" Honoria's chest puffed out as she lifted her shoulders and double chin. "I will be happy to, Miss Hallsmith."
Phoebe strode past Watson to the door and pushed through.
The enormous desk that Emma had purchased as a wedding gift for Markus took up most of the room. Phoebe's heart broke at the memory of how proud her friend had been of the custom-made gift. She had thought the sun rose with her husband, and the two had been the perfect couple. Wood, though dusty, paneled three walls while one boasted three large bookcases separated by two benches. A musty odor, from disuse and lack of cleaning, tickled Phoebe's nose.
Markus faced the cloudy window overlooking the side garden. "I do not wish to be disturbed. Go away."
The petulance of his tone only raised Phoebe's ire. Behavior of that sort should be disregarded, even if on the inside she seethed. Placing Elizabeth on the floor, Phoebe said, "That is too bad, my lord, as you have company who will not be turned aside. I am here on business."
His chair scraped across the wood floor as he stood and turned. He narrowed green eyes, shadowed with dark rings and sunken into pale skin, and he swayed. The strong, handsome man Emma had loved and married was no longer present in Markus Flammel.
Phoebe propped her fists on her hips and met his gaze.
"Phoebe Hallsmith?" She dropped her hands and fell into a polite curtsy. "My lord."
"What are you doing here? Emma is gone."
His raised voice brought a whimper from poor Elizabeth who shrunk back and hid her face in Phoebe's skirt.
Turning, Phoebe called out the study door. "Mrs. Donnelly?" Still frazzled and tattered, the housekeeper poked her head in the door. "Miss?"
"Please take Miss Elizabeth to the kitchen and see if Cook has a nice biscuit for her. Then see that her hands and face are washed before you bring her back here to visit with her father."
Mrs. Donnelly's face went white and she stiffened. "Little Elizabeth does not care for face washing."
"Do not tell me you are afraid of that child, Madam. I will not hear of it. Miss Elizabeth will be happy for the cookie and act the proper lady when it is time to wash. Isn't that right?" She gave Elizabeth a pointed look.
Red-faced, Elizabeth stared at Phoebe with her mouth open. Never taking her gaze away, she toddled over to Mrs. Donnelly and took her hand.
Once they left, Markus ran his fingers through his overlong hair. "How did you do that?"
Phoebe wanted to feel sympathy for him but she couldn't keep her annoyance in check. "What on earth is wrong with you? How can you talk about Emma that way in front of your daughter? I am well aware of the loss of my dear friend, so your attempt to hurt me was wasted. Why is your house in chaos? Why are Emma's roses along the front entrance overgrown? Why is your staff terrified of a small child? Where have you been that they are shocked at your arrival? I demand answers."
"You demand? Who are you to demand anything? Where were you when Emma lay in her coffin and they covered her up with dirt? You have no rights here." He collapsed into his chair.
Guilt swelled inside Phoebe, and she sat across from him. "I was in Scotland with my grandmother. She was ill and I could not leave her. I received a letter from my mother about Emma's passing, and you may believe me when I tell you I was quite devastated. However, there was nothing I could do for her as she was and is in God's hands." Pulling herself together, she added, "I have been sent here by the Everton Domestic Society at the behest of your mother."
"I do not care why you are here. Get out of my house. You only serve as a reminder of her."
Where was the Markus of old? The man who Emma had gushed over. Markus would stop in and enjoy tea and conversation with the ladies. "Answer my questions. Then maybe I will leave you in peace."
He lifted a bottle of liquor out of his desk drawer, banged it onto the surface, removed the top, and took a long pull.
Phoebe had never seen this side of Markus. Running might have been the smart thing to do, but she held her place and swallowed her fear. He had always been calm and polite. Everything admirable had gone with her friend and the child suffered for it. Something had to be done. "Have you taken to the bottle as well as neglected your responsibilities, my lord? I always imagined you were smarter than your father."
Markus's face colored a horrible shade of purple, and he hurled the bottle across the room. It shattered against the wall in a starburst of glimmering shards. Brandy ran down the wall in rivulets and the stench of alcohol swamped the room.
If she left now, she could escape whatever wrath she had unleashed inside of him, but where would that leave poor Elizabeth? "Are you quite through or are there other objects you'd like to destroy? Maybe you will hack up that desk Emma bought you next?"
The air went out of him and he slumped onto his folded arms atop the desk. His shoulders rose and fell several times before he sat up. "I have not been home because everything here reminds me of her and I am not strong enough. As to your other questions ..." He shrugged. "I fired the gardener and the child has put a strain on the household. Did you say my mother sent you?"
Many things she should have said, but his eyes shone from too much brandy and practical matters needed addressing first. "I work for Everton Domestic Society. Your mother contracted for someone to help you with Rosefield."
"Help me? How can you help me? No one can help." He put his forehead on his arms.
Nothing was ever easy. She needed a dozen questions answered, but one or two would have to do while he was in this state. "Why is there no nanny?"
"I may have fired one or two." He leaned his head back against the leather and closed his eyes.
"What about your mother? Has she not come to help with the staff?"
The green of his eyes was as intense as his daughter's. He scoffed. "I tossed her from the house the last time I was home. I think she said something about never darkening my door again. Just as well."
The situation was coming into view, and the remedy would not be an easy one. "I see. Lady Chervil and I each have a lady's maid. We will need rooms made up. I expect your staff can handle that small task. Our carriage needed repairs so we hired a hack this morning. The Everton Domestic Society's carriage with our bags and maids will arrive later today. They will need to be brought in. I will explain to your staff my needs and expectations."
He stood, and pressing his knuckles to the wood, leaned forward. If the desk had not been so big, his looming might have been threatening, but as it was, he was too far away to leave her awed.
"You cannot live here. I am an unmarried man," he said, voice cracking.
It wrenched her heart. "Everton's is aware of your situation. That is why Lady Chervil is here as my chaperon. She is speaking with Watson now."
Raising his voice, he pointed at Phoebe. "I do not want her or you here. I do not need you here."
"Your rage does not scare me, my lord, so you might as well save it for someone else. You could tell me you will hire a reputable nanny and allow her to sort out your house. You might tell me you have met a fine woman and plan to remarry. You could step up and be the man Emma married and take care of your own house. If you can look me in the eye and guarantee me these things will happen, I will walk out that door and report to my superiors that all is well here and leave you in peace."
He sank back into his chair. "I will not be responsible for you or Lady Chervil."
"No. I imagine you are not even responsible for yourself these days. One more thing, my lord. When Mrs. Donnelly arrives back here in a few moments with your daughter in tow, you are to put aside whatever sorrows you have and pay her the attention she deserves. Do I make myself clear?" If she was overstepping her boundaries, she didn't care. He had suffered, but so had Elizabeth and at his hand. There was no time like the present to start a change.
"She looks too much like Emma." Pain etched lines around his eyes and mouth.
Sympathy shared the space with her disgust. He was in pain but his behavior could not be ignored. "And quite a lot like you too, Markus. She is a smart child and she needs you."
Tugging at his badly tied cravat, he pulled it loose. "You have been here not twenty minutes. How do you know she's smart?" Phoebe sat on the edge of the monstrous desk. "Your daughter is two years old and has not spoken, yet she clearly understands what is said to her."
He sat up. "Has not spoken?"
It took a force of will not to rail at him for being so self-absorbed he didn't know his child was mute. "According to your staff, Elizabeth does not speak. I think that is a sign of her intelligence."
"To be so filled with sorrow at her age that she chooses not to speak to anyone means she understands a great deal of what is happening in her world. Perhaps she has nothing to say in a world that left her without a mother and a father."
Staring down at his hands in his lap he nodded.
One scratch at the door and it opened. Elizabeth ran several steps into the room, stopped and stared at her father.
Softening his expression, Markus looked up. "Come here, Elizabeth."
Elizabeth looked from him to Phoebe. She spotted the broken glass on the far side of the room and took a step back.
Phoebe smiled. "It's all right. Go to your father."
Going to one knee, Markus opened his arms.
Blinking, Elizabeth cocked her head before running into his embrace.
It was all Phoebe could do to keep from breaking down into sobs at the sight of father and daughter hugging. What had she gotten herself into? She must be mad. If Emma had not been her closest friend, she would have left Markus Flammel and his problems to someone else at Everton. Though, now that she'd seen Elizabeth, she wanted to see her happy.
Mrs. Donnelly watched from the doorway. She dabbed her eyes with her apron and sniffed back her tears.
Lifting Elizabeth, Markus sat in his chair and propped her in his lap. "I am sorry I have not been at home, Elizabeth. I promise to try to do better."
Elizabeth put her palm on his cheek and father and daughter stared into each other's eyes.
Excerpted from "A Lady's Honor"
Copyright © 2018 A.S. Fenichel.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This was such a great story. Two troubled souls each with their own loses in the world. I loved all the special characters in the book. Terrific read.
Phoebe has missed her season because she was taking care of her ill grandmother. She spent five years looking after the woman she loved with all her heart and missed her chance at marriage. Wasting her time at home with nothing to do isn't something that suits the practical Phoebe, so she joined the Everton Domestic Society. Her brother disowned her because he considers this a scandal, but for Phoebe it's an honor to help others getting their lives back on track. Markus is drowning in his grief. He drinks too much and neglects his duties. He's chased most of his staff away. That's why his mother has hired an Everton lady to take over his home and sort Markus out. Phoebe knows Markus well because he was married to her best friend. He's now a widower with a little girl to look after. Will Phoebe turn Markus into a loving father and conscienscious member of the ton and property owner again? Phoebe considers herself a spinster and doesn't intend to get involved with someone. Several suitors are unexpectedly fighting for her hand in marriage though, which is something Markus doesn't approve of. While spending time together Markus and Phoebe become really close. Can he love again after losing his wife and will he and Phoebe have a chance, especially when not everyone will be happy with their union? A Lady's Honor is a wonderful romantic story. Phoebe is strong, capable, levelheaded and smart. She doesn't take no for an answer and succeeds where others have failed. I immediately loved this spirited woman. She's a force to be reckoned with while she remains kind, which is a fabulous character trait. Markus has hit rock bottom and Phoebe is there to drag him out of his sorry state. She has him back on track in no time and I loved how she pushes him to be a better father and head of the household. He listens to her and values her opinion. I liked their close friendship and the sparks that fly between them. They have plenty of obstacles in their way and giving into their feelings would bring many difficulties, but they both very much deserve to have a chance at happiness again. Finding out if they'd find love kept me on the edge of my seat. A.S. Fenichel has a gorgeous captivating writing style. I was immediately enchanted by A Lady's Honor, it's a beautiful story about true love, second chances and making dreams come true. I loved that the main characters are headstrong and fierce, that makes them incredibly interesting. A.S. Fenichel combines this with fascinating descriptions of what it's like to run a stately home. There's plenty of drama in Phoebe's personal life, which brings delightful entertainment. I loved how that balances the amazing tender love that's unfolding. A Lady's Honor is a fantastic heartwarming book. I love it when a story puts a big smile on my face and I highly recommend this terrific feelgood novel.
A Lady's Honor is a promising beginning in prolific author A.S Fenichel's Everton Domestic Society series. Phoebe Hallsmith decided to travel to Scotland to look after her ailing grandmother. After several years, her grandmother's recovery and eventual death, and a disastrous broken engagement, Phoebe is firmly "on the shelf"; at least in her opinion and that of her overbearing family. Rather than retire to her family's home, she decided to take a position with the Everton Domestic Society. Her decision only brings more family disapproval. Phoebe has been successful at straightening out upper-class households in disarray and is relatively content. Phoebe's new assignment promises to be a little more personal. Markus Flammel's mother has asked for Phoebe in particular. Since the death of his wife, Emma, Markus has been a complete mess. He is in a state of perpetual drunkenness, his estate is in near ruins, and he is neglectful of his toddler daughter. The problem is that Phoebe and Emma were close friends and Phoebe fears that she will become more personally involved than she should. Phoebe, Markus (at least after Phoebe takes control), and especially toddler Elizabeth are charming characters whose journey to happiness is fraught. I did think that the story dragged a bit in spots but overall was a diverting read. Thanks to NetGalley and Lyrical for an advance digital copy. The opinions are my own.
Good, well written, emotional story. Little Elizabeth is adorable. But Phoebe is one of the most annoying heroine's I've ever read. I repeatedly found myself wanting to smack her for her attitude and behavior. How can she be so strong and yet so spineless at the same time?
4.5* Lady Phoebe Hallsmith has chosen to work at The Everton Domestic Society verses marriage to a man who doesn’t love her, she is disowned by her family. She enjoys helping people and finds pleasure in a job well done. She takes her position very seriously and follows the rules to the T! Markus Flammel, the viscount of Devonrose is devastated by the death of his wife Emma after giving birth to their beautiful daughter Elizabeth. For two years his life has spiraled out of control, his home is in disarray, he has a handful of servants left and he spends most of his days drunk. Worst of all Elizabeth is scared of him. After Markus throws his mother out of his house she contacts The Everton Domestic Society for help. When’s she’s on her way out she runs into Phoebe, who was best friends with Emma. His mother insists that she be the one sent to help get Markus’ house in order. It goes against the rules for Phoebe to be the one but she is compelled to help her friends family. The moment she arrives there is complete chaos through out the house and she is shocked how much the estate has been neglected. Phoebe takes everything in hand and confronts Markus with is drunken behavior and how ashamed he should be. One of the best scenes is when she’s confronting him. She’s strong, direct and shows him just how much he’s fallen and what he’s loosing if things do not change. He demands she leave, but as the days go by and a sense of normalcy settled in the home the attraction between Markus and Phoebe grow. Shame and guilt for their feelings and Emma’s memory stand to drive them apart but trust and the sense of safety just might be stronger. This book is full of emotions, sadness and laughter and the realization that the heart is big enough for more then one great love.
Markus Flammel's life is spiraling out of control. Constantly drunk to avoid confronting the grief that has haunted him the past two years since his beloved wife Emma died in childbirth, he does not even know what day it is. He has fired most of his staff in a drunken rage and his daughter has not spoken a word at the age of 2 and is being raised by the few staff members that are left. His mother hires a lady from the Everton Domestic Society to help but can she fix this pit of despair? Phoebe cannot believe the state of Markus Flammel. She had known him as her late friend Emma's husband but only as an acquaintance. Emma's bright light had clearly been extinguished when she passed as her home had fallen into shambles. Determined to honor Emma's memory, Phoebe gets to work restoring the place and the people in it. But things go a little too far when she works on restoring Markus to a sober, responsible, and dedicated father. When I got the e-mail that access had been granted for A.S. Fenichel's latest book, I squealed. I could not wait to get started on this book and I was even more pleased as I read when characters from her previous series, Forever Brides, made appearances. I love and highly recommend the Forever Bride series and each of those books can be read as standalones, which I imagine will be the same for the future of the Everton Domestic Society series. Having read those books, it was like running into an old friend. But there were brief descriptions provided in case the reader had not read those books. Much like the previous books that I had read by her, the characters develop very well throughout the book. They are also often stubborn but with hearts of gold. Aside from that, these characters have very different personalities from the previous sets of characters. I loved how she incorporated Elizabeth, the toddler daughter, into the story and she was my favorite character as she turned out to be the glue for everyone. I also loved Honoria, she reminded me of Vladimir in the animated movie Anastasia: bubbly, intuitive, and supportive. I would definitely recommend this book for romance readers who like to root for the underdogs. Much like the other books that I have read by A. S. Fenichel, the romance is complex yet lovely. I would recommend this book also for readers who love HEAs and overcoming large obstacles. On the other hand, I would not recommend this book for those who may be offended or triggered by the following: alcoholism, addiction, spousal death, grief, sexually explicit scenarios, violence, and foul language. Please note: an electronic ARC of this book was generously provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Can two tortured souls overcome past hurts and embrace their second chance at love or are their hearts closed off forever? After missing out on the marriage mart due to taking care of her sick grandmother in Scotland, Phoebe Hallsmith’s resolute to be a spinster. She’s a proud employee of the Everton Domestic Society and very thankful to Lady Jane for taking her in after her mother and eldest brother disowned her. She embraces each assignment for its challenges but her latest one has her questioning her vocation and her heart. She falls for Markus but keeps her feelings to herself, for Emma’s sake. Lord Markus Flammel’s life ended when his beloved wife, Emma, died giving birth to their daughter, Elizabeth, two years ago. He drowns his sorrow in the bottle morning, noon and night. He’s abandoned his friends and family who’ve been trying to get him sober. It’s only when his mother contracts Phoebe from the Everton Domestic Society that things start to change. She shames him with her words but her demand for order, not to mention her intelligence, breaks through his grief. With Phoebe’s help, he vows to quit drinking and get his life in order. He starts to fall in love with her but is he betraying his late wife’s memory, or can he love Phoebe while still loving Emma? I loved reading Markus’ story as he’s been one of my favorite characters in Fenichel’s Forever Brides series. I’ve watched him spiral downwards and knew there had to be a woman who could bring him out of his dank existence. Fenichel portrays the widower with a child addicted to drink well and I applaud her for reaching emotional depths with Markus. His growth from drunk to sober is heart-wrenching but paramount to the story. Phoebe, by far, is my favorite character. She’s intelligent, organized, full of passion and even has a fiery temper. She speaks her mind and makes Markus want to be a better man. Her spunk attracts the attention of three men which I found amusing. If you love historical romance with a strong-willed heroine, this is a must-read! Fenichel’s outdone herself with a lush romantic story with honest, emotional depth, high stakes and humorous dialogue. I can’t wait for the next one in the series. Disclaimer: I received an ARC from Lyrical Press (Kensington Books) via Netgalley in the hopes I’d review it. Favorite Character/Quote: Phoebe wanted to feel sympathy for him but she couldn't keep her annoyance in check. "What on earth is wrong with you? How can you talk about Emma that way in front of your daughter? I am well aware of the loss of my dear friend, so your attempt to hurt me was wasted. Why is your house in chaos? Why are Emma's roses along the front entrance overgrown? Why is your staff terrified of a small child? Where have you been that they are shocked at your arrival? I demand answers." "You demand? Who are you to demand anything? Where were you when Emma lay in her coffin and they covered her up with dirt? You have no rights here." He collapsed into his chair. My Rating: 5+ stars
I thoroughly enjoyed Phoebe. She knew what she wanted to do and did not truly care what others thought. She was faced with a situation of heartbreak, lost love, and despair. Despite her feelings, she managed to turn things around for Markus, but she was blind to her own world. I love the second chance at love to show one can love more than once in a lifetime. The Everton Domestic Society was a wonderful idea. I loved this story and recommend it. I look forward to more in the series. I received a copy of this story through Netgalley, and this is my unsolicited review.
This is a lovely tale of second chances, difficult families, friendship and support, outrageous suitors, and our hero and heroine picking their paths through it all. I totally enjoyed the journey. I see that some of the supporting characters have already had their stories told. You don't have to have read them to enjoy this book. But you will certainly be tempted to do so!
Rating: 4.5/5 This is a delightful, heartwarming historical romance and I’m so happy to discover it is the first in a new series - I’ll definitely be looking out for more in the series and other books by this author in future. Although a member of the nobility, Phoebe Hallsmith has chosen to work for the Everton Domestic Service rather than staying at home - much to the displeasure of her family some of whom have disowned her. She believes she is doomed to spinsterhood after leaving London to care for her ailing grandmother (Grands) for five years and having her fiancé break off their engagement. She’s quite enjoying her new life! When she returns to the Society after a job ends, she is greeted by the mother-in-law of her now-deceased best friend and ends up going to help her son, Markus Flammel, who is not coping well with his wife’s death in childbirth, even though it is now two years since it occurred. When she arrives at his home she finds Elizabeth ,his two year old daughter who doesn’t speak but does scream to get her own way, is being brought up by the few servants who remain in the household and his lordship is drinking to excess to help him cope with his grief. Phoebe is determined to improve the situation and takes over organising his household, employing new servants, helping Elizabeth behave more like a young lady and endeavouring to stop Markus from drinking and encouraging him to look after his estates again. She’s one feisty red head who ends up with two other men seeking her hand in marriage whilst Markus really doesn’t want her to marry either of them. However, he’s still feeling guilty about moving on after his first wife’s death. Will he give their mutual attraction a chance or will he return to drowning his sorrows again? The story had great characters from all levels of society and I suspect many of them will feature in future stories in this series. It is a whirlwind romance, a real page turner, with many moving moments - some funny, some sad and some heartwarming. It is a beautifully told story that I thoroughly enjoyed and have absolutely no hesitation in highly recommending to anyone who enjoys historical romances with a fiery female lead helping reawaken the hero who has to fight to win her heart. I requested and was lucky enough to be given a copy of this novel, via NetGalley, with no obligation. This is my honest review of the book after choosing to read it.
Lady Phoebe Hallsmith, age 24, after embarrassing her mother, has had to go into service. She works for the Everton Domestic Society. Phoebe has just returned from an assignment helping a young wallflower prepare for her debut. Now, that young girl is to be married and Phoebe’s assignment is complete. The proprietor of the Society wants Phoebe to take another assignment. She is to work at the home of Markus Flammel, the Viscount of Devonrose, who lost his wife, Emma, after giving birth to their daughter, Elizabeth. His grief has led him to drinking. Since then, the house and grounds have deteriorated. Phoebe had been good friends with Emma. Thus, Phoebe agrees to the position and takes a chaperone, the dowager Lady Honoria Chevril. Both will also take their lady’s maids with them. Upon arrival, Phoebe finds a skeleton staff and a drunken Marcus. Phoebe immediately takes charge and convinces Marcus to stop drinking and to spend more time with Elizabeth. When he’s finally sober, they begin the process of hiring more staff. Both Phoebe and Marcus are night owls which means they end up in the kitchen late at night for a snack. Their growing friendship is not without its own problems due to their differing personalities. But, is there a possibility they might find love? I really wanted to like this book but I found it difficult to believe that Marcus could quit his drinking as fast as he did. I truly did not care for Phoebe. She is a woe is me type of person who is determined to wear her hair shirt forever. In addition, there are a lot of characters thrown into the mix that makes it difficult to keep up with. I have enjoyed this author’s books in past and hope that her next ones will be more appealing. Copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
For the same reason that Marie Kondo’s 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up' took the world by storm, so too should 'A Lady’s Honor' appeal to the inner-organizer in all of us. Drunk and disaffected since the death of his wife two years earlier, Markus Flammel’s stately country home is in disarray. Enter, then, Phoebe Hallsmith, well-bred but independent and in service, she plays chatelaine to her childhood acquaintance, and soon sets his life to rights. But the more he becomes accustomed to her presence, the more he comes to realize that nothing in his life will ever be to rights without her… What a wonderful book! Such an unusual premise told so thrillingly, and with such panache. You will be breathless in anticipation for the next in the series! -- Rachel Hyland * This review appears in the April 2018 issue of Romantic Intentions Quarterly.
Goodness, this was such a sweet and heartwarming romance – and isn’t the cover lovely? While this is the start of a series, it has some ties to some of Ms. Fenichel’s previous series. While it was obvious I was missing some backstory, I think this works fine as a standalone. After caring for her grandmother in Scotland for several years, and then suffering a broken engagement to an absolute jerk, Phoebe breaks with her family and goes into service as an employee of the Everton Domestic Society. While normally it’s against the Society’s rules to work with someone you’re acquainted with, Phoebe makes an exception for Markus, the husband of her late best friend, Emma. In the two years since Emma died giving birth to her daughter, Markus has been mired in an alcohol-fueled fog, neglecting his estate and daughter, and rebuffing any attempts at help from friends or family. “’I am four and twenty.’ ‘I see.’ ‘What do you see? That I am too old to make a good match and had no choice but to join the Everton Society? That I have wasted my best years? That I should be married and raising a family by now? That I am an old maid put on the shelf to be pitied and despised by the women of the ton?'” Phoebe is twenty-four, and has resigned herself to being on the shelf, though she dreams of a marriage and family. She also has a bit of a temper, a tendency to let her emotions run away with her, and likes to stick her nose in other peoples’ business, but most of all she is strong-willed with a firm moral compass, and through her tenacity starts to get Rosefield, Markus’ estate, back into running order. Through a series of late-night meetings in the kitchen, Markus and Phoebe reminisce about Emma and begin to develop feelings for each other. However, Markus believes he only has rom in his heart for his dead wife, and Phoebe doesn’t want him to marry her out of obligation instead of love, and eventually end up as an unwanted encumbrance. In true romance novel fashion, their relationship helps both Phoebe and Markus heal. Phoebe feels unwanted and unseen – by society in general, since she’s a spinster, and by her family, since she refused to leave her Grandma to come back for her London season and remains unwed. While joining the Society has given her some agency and allows her to help others, that help comes with a time limit, and she knows that eventually, if she does her job well, they’ll no longer need her and she’ll have to move on. Markus is trying to deal with the ramifications of his two years of anger and neglect, seeking forgiveness for himself from his friends and family, and eventually realizing that he needs to forgive as well. Unlike some second marriage books I’ve read, there’s no doubt that Markus and his first wife were deeply in love, and it was nice to see both he and Phoebe accepting that it’s OK to love more than one person. Also, while I make no bones (heh) about the fact that I love steamy romances, there is something delightful about historical romances where touching bare hands is risqué and chock with sexual tension. One thing I especially liked about their relationship was that Markus accepted that Phoebe was due her own agency (unlike her other suitors). As for cons, things seem to happen rather quickly – from getting Rosefield back in order to Phoebe gaining a trio of suitors – plus Markus’ daughter, Elizabeth, veered into twee territory too much for my liking. Overall, this was a delightfully sweet!
This was a well-written, entertaining book. Phoebe spent her eligible years taking care of her grandmother, and was briefly engaged, though her fiance ended the engagement. Accepting her status as a spinster, she chooses to be of use and works for the Everton Domestic Society. She takes a position in the country home of an old friend who has been widowed and has a toddler to raise by himself. Markus is devastated by losing his wife, and has spent two years trying to drink away his sorrow. Phoebe arrives and begins to put his estate back in order, hiring and firing staff and directing them in the care of Markus's estate and his child. Sparks fly between Phoebe and Markus - is there a way for them to overcome the obstacles between them and build a future together? This book can be read as a standalone story, though it is the first in the Everton Domestic Society series. I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more books in this series as well as other books by this author.
I really loved Phoebe and Markus's story! Resigned to spinsterhood, Phoebe has joined the Everton Domestic Society of London. When asked to help her late friend's husband get his life back together, she can't turn it down. When Phoebe arrives at Markus's home, she finds it in upheaval and its master drunk, which she learns has been his general state since the passing of his wife. Markus doesn't want Phoebe there, but she is determined to get the house in shape so that her best friend's daughter can live a life free of chaos. First on her list, is to get Markus not to drink. Having madly loved his wife and knowing he would never love again, Markus finds it discerning to be attracted to Phoebe. Not wanting to dishonor her best friend, Phoebe tries to deny her growing feelings for Markus. Can these two find their way to a HEA? I just loved watching Markus and Phoebe falling in love. One of the reasons I liked this story so much was that it showed you could fall in love more than once. Usually in the stories of a second marriage, the surviving spouse didn't love the first person they were married to. It was generally a marriage of alliance and not someone that they would have chosen on their own. This was a refreshing change. This was a great first book in Fenichel's newest series and I'm excited for the next book in the series, A Lady's Escape, to come out in October! Note: This book has ties to Fenichel's Forever Brides series, Markus is the brother to the heroine in Desperate Bride and he is friends with the heroes of all 3 books.
A Lady's Honor is I believe, my first book by A.S. Fenichel. What a great surprise. Ms. Fenichel has delivered a book that is well-written and packed with fantastic characters. After a broken engagement, Phoebe goes to work for the Everton Domestic Society, which causes her brother to disown her. Markus lost his wife during childbirth, turning him into a father that buries himself in alcohol. Markus and Phoebe's story is filled with drama, humor, sizzle and a bit of action. I enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading more from A.S. Fenichel in the future. A Lady's Honor is book 1 of the Everton Domestic Society Series but can be read as a standalone. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
My heart is full as I turn the last page of this story. I knew this would be a wonderful story because every book I have read by this author is a keeper! Two souls brought together that were meant for each other but had to go a long way to find out. Having lost his beloved wife Emma over two years ago, Markus Flammel had been trying to drown himself in drink. Neglecting his home and his two year old daughter, he cannot bear the thoughts of his lost wife. Lady Phoebe Hallsmith has lost a lot herself. Betrothed and then rejected, she spent several years taking care of her dying grandmother before coming back home. Now on the shelf at 24 she has gone to work for the Everton Domestic Society and helping other people get their lives together. She is sent on a mission to pull Markus back up and get his house in order while making sure his daughter is in good hands. But you see, Phoebe had been his wife Emma's best friend, so she knew Markus and all that he had been through. As she begins to take control and gets Markus to shape up, Phoebe becomes invested in his sweet daughter and in Markus himself. Can anything come of their budding attraction? I loved these two characters and eagerly turned the pages to see what would happen. At times I wanted to shake Phoebe because she would not let herself believe that life could be more. This is one of the best stories I have read this year and cannot wait to read more!! Lori Dykes
A Lady's Honor (Everton Domestic Society, #1) by A.S. Fenichel ... This is the first book in this series and I was lucky to be able to preview it on #NetGalley. Phoebe.. Left England to care for her ailing grandmother in Scotland..giving up a chance of making a good marriage match...Markus..has fallen into decline (he has become a drunk with a foul temper) after the death of his beloved wife Emma when their daughter Elizabeth is born... Phoebe has taken a position with The Everton Domestic Society....and is sent to help Markus repair his life... Emma was her best friend and she feels guilty for her feeling for Markus.. Which is against all of the Everton Lady Rules (which we learn in the story) Markus feels guilty for caring for Phoebe... I love the way I felt part of the story and enjoyed sharing their lives...Of course they get to their HEA...but I won't spoil your trip getting there...Can't wait for the next book in the series...
I loved the story of Phoebe and Markus! The addition of Elizabeth was perfect. Watching how Phoebe dealt with falling in love with her best friend's widower was great as well as watching how he handled it as well. I almost cried with Elizabeth's first words! Thank you NetGalley for the ARC!