Bath, England 1810
At twenty-eight, Alethea Sutherton is past her prime for courtship; but social mores have never been her forté. She might be a lady, but she is first and foremost a musician.
In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady. Ostracized by society for her passion, Alethea practices in secret and waits for her chance to flee to the Continent, where she can play without scandal.
But when a thief ’s interest in her violin endangers her and her family, Alethea is determined to discover the enigmatic origins of her instrument … with the help of the dark, brooding Lord Dommick.
Scarred by war, Dommick finds solace only in playing his violin. He is persuaded to help Alethea, and discovers an entirely new yearning in his soul.
Alethea finds her reluctant heart drawn to Dommick in the sweetest of duets . . . just as the thief’s desperation builds to a tragic crescendo . . .
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 9.70(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
Read an Excerpt
Prelude to a Lord
By Camille Elliot
ZONDERVANCopyright © 2014 Camy Tang
All rights reserved.
12 Months Later
A prickling sensation spread across the back of Alethea's neck, which had nothing to do with the brisk air of Bath in the winter.
She looked up from the cabbage she was considering and glanced around the busy marketplace. People shifted in and out of her vision, none looking at her. She twisted to look in the other direction, but again no one paid her any attention.
So why had she felt as if she were being watched?
The farmer, John, looked at her with brow wrinkled. "Something worrying you, miss?"
Alethea had never corrected him. By now, she was used to being called "miss" as opposed to "my lady." After all, who would believe an earl's daughter was out in the market buying potatoes and parsnips? But today it took her a moment to realize he was speaking to her. "What? Oh, I beg your pardon, John. Yes, I'll take the cabbage."
The prickling feeling returned. Alethea casually turned to the side as if considering some leeks and quickly glanced up.
She caught a man staring at her.
He looked away as if her gaze burned him. Alethea continued to watch him, studying his grey thinning hair, dirty leathery skin, cadaverous build. She wasn't sure what she was searching for, perhaps something silly like an indication he'd been watching her, but then he entered into a conversation with a man selling knives, apparently bargaining for something.
Had he been watching her or did he just happen to look in her direction? She would have been a terrible spy.
She slipped the cabbage into her market basket, then paid and thanked John before leaving. She was being ridiculous. Who in the world would care enough to want to follow her? She had no money of her own that she controlled, and no social connections since her one season in London had been so uneventful. Besides which, she was a tall, plain, eight and twenty-year-old and not some pretty, dewy-eyed young miss just out of the schoolroom.
She turned up Milsom Street, which bustled mostly with maids, manservants, and merchants this early in the morning. The more fashionable set would emerge in several hours, but for now she was relieved that, as usual, no one would recognize her. It was the reason she'd flown against convention and volunteered to do the cook's marketing—the opportunity to stroll the streets of Bath, breathe in the crisp air, and walk for an hour or two with no young ladies to titter at her strong stride, no old biddies to disparage her rosy cheeks from the exercise.
A year ago she had arrived in Bath with the hopes it would have a more diverse, broad-minded set of people. Instead, Bath contained a fashionable set who professed to be liberal and intelligent, but who all seemed to disdain Alethea's passions as ungenteel. Their wit could cut as sharp as the people in London, and for some of them, politeness was merely a veneer.
She could not avoid them at the evening parties, but she could shake their influence loose from her mind during early mornings like these, when she could disappear into the servants of Bath. She strolled through a cluster of shopkeepers, completely unnoticed.
A coach-and-four barreled down the street, much too fast for the narrow way. Several people leapt out of the way of the horses with cries of alarm, but the crowds forced the coachman to finally slow his headlong dash, right where Alethea stood pressed against a shop wall.
"Why are we slowing?" a deep male voice demanded from the depths of the coach.
Alethea had been breathless on account of being forced to the side, but now the air stopped in her throat.
It couldn't be him. Not here, in Bath.
She glanced up just as a man from within the coach looked out—and met her eyes.
Dark eyes, shadowed, solitary. He had always reminded her of a hawk, its power and beauty, its lonely existence. But she now noticed that there was a dark pain, something that had aged him beyond the eleven years since she'd seen him last.
His eyes flickered, and she tensed. Surely he wouldn't recognize her. She had been one woman in a crowd of hundreds at his concert in London who had danced at the same balls, attended the same operas. Fallen half in love with dashing Mr. Terralton, son and heir to Baron Dommick.
No, he was Lord Dommick now—she had read that his father died last year, three months after Mr. Terralton returned to England, injured from fighting Napoleon on the continent.
But his gaze didn't leave hers for a few heartbeats, as if trying to place her.
Then he turned away as the man sitting next to him said, "Bay, I'm sure it would hamper your rescue attempts if you were arrested for killing a bystander with your coach."
Alethea recognized him as Lord Ian Wynnman, and sitting across from them was the Marquess of Ravenhurst.
Her heartbeat galloped. Three of the Quartet, here? She would have expected them to be wintering at their country estates, not mouldering in Bath with invalids taking the waters.
"Bay, your stepfather is a fool. A delay of a few minutes will not mean your sister's ruin," Lord Ravenhurst said.
Alethea recalled an announcement in the papers about Lord Dommick's mother remarrying, although she couldn't remember to whom.
"He may be a fool, but I know nothing of his nephew," Lord Dommick replied as the coach pulled away from Alethea. "I intend to allow him no time for any malicious scheming ..."
Alethea stared at the back of the coach as it continued down the street, her heartbeat returning to normal. For a moment, she'd thought the Quartet was in Bath to give one of their famous concerts, but that was a silly notion. After Lord Dommick and Mr. David Enlow had gone off to join the fighting on the continent, the Quartet had not played together in seven years. She had not heard anything about Mr. Enlow but supposed he must still be in the army.
The Quartet's concerts had been glorious, but the pain of the memory of her first meeting Lord Dommick made her insides twist like a kitchen rag being wrung of water.
She straightened her shoulders. She was a fool to allow old memories to hurt her. She continued up Milsom Street, although her steps resembled a march more than a stroll.
If those three bachelors were to remain in Bath, she would more than likely see them at the social entertainments of the winter months. One or all of them would be trapped by some well-meaning older woman into being introduced to Alethea, and she would need to admit they had already been introduced years ago in London.
But perhaps they were simply here for a day or two before travelling on to London or their estates. She might be worrying for nothing.
Alethea walked toward her aunt's home in Queen Square. It had been a new, expensive development during the time Aunt Ebena's husband had bought it, but in more recent years it had begun to fall out of favour, inhabited by a more dowdy set than the fashionable residents of the Crescent and Laura Place, and now the homes in Queen Square reminded Alethea of aging baronesses attempting to hide the ravages of time and neglect.
She was near her aunt's home when she heard from behind her, "Pardon me, milady. Might I have a word?"
She froze, partly because of "milady," and partly because the male voice was unfamiliar to her, uncultured, with a slick overtone that reminded her of cold congealed beef.
She should have simply walked on. After all, it could be nothing but trouble for a lady to be so rudely accosted on the street by a stranger. But because he'd startled her by knowing she was no ordinary miss, it gave him the opportunity to hurry around her stiff figure to stand before her.
She had anticipated the sticklike grey man from the marketplace, but she was almost relieved to find this man was different. He had a round belly that strained his bright yellow-and-green striped waistcoat and spindly legs encased in puce breeches. The puce at least matched the amethyst stickpin in his starched cravat, and the yellow stripes almost matched his blond hair.
Something tight coiled in Alethea's stomach at his audacity and the fact they were alone on this remote street. The general stamp of her neighbors were unlikely to bestir themselves to chivalry and rescue her.
"Mr. Golding at your service, milady. I wish only a moment of your time." The man's mouth curved in a strange V shape that tilted his eyes up at the corners and made his face seem to leer at her.
How did he know her rank? Was it a guess? Nothing in her plain straw bonnet, dark blue dress, and wool cloak indicated she was anything more than an upper servant. "Pray excuse me." She attempted to sidestep him, but he blocked her way.
"I have a lucrative proposition for you."
"Let me pass," she said.
"Perhaps you have in your possession a violin?"
Of all things he could have said, that was the last she expected.
"My employer is willing to pay a substantial sum, if you were in the mind to sell it," Mr. Golding said.
"Who is your employer?" she demanded.
"My employer wishes to remain anonymous."
"Of course he would," she said dryly, then realized the man hadn't identified his employer as a man or woman.
"You may name your price," he said. "Enough to buy another violin. Enough to afford better lodgings for yourself and your aunt."
The cold of the season suddenly made itself known to Alethea through her woolen cloak. How did he know about her aunt? Perhaps the same way he knew about her violin and her rank. The words had been amiable, but the man delivered them like a faint threat.
No, she was being silly. This was exactly like the time the new butcher in the village had tried to insist that the rotting meat he had delivered was the same quality as always. As lady of the manor at Trittonstone Park, she had put him in his place when she had the cook prepare a piece and demanded the butcher take the first bite.
She drew herself up. "I refuse to have any interactions with someone of whom I know nothing."
Mr. Golding's brown eyes narrowed, and his V smile flattened.
"However, should your employer wish to call with a note of introduction, I would be pleased to receive him. Good day."
She stepped around him and continued down the street as quickly as she dared. She half expected him to follow her, but instead she heard the heavy stamp of his footsteps moving away. She peeked around and saw his broad back, encased in purple superfine, as he headed away from her. He had turned the corner and was out of sight by the time she reached Aunt Ebena's door.
She was surprised by a post chaise stopped in front of her aunt's home. The coachman who stood holding the horses' heads gave her an insolent grin, which she froze with a cold glance. Raised voices sounded from behind the front door, causing Alethea to quickly enter the house.
The narrow front foyer was chaos. A trunk took up most of the space, while the rest was filled with a woman twice as broad as Alethea, shouting at Aunt Ebena, who stood firmly at the foot of the staircase.
"'Tis your responsibility now. I wash my hands of her!" The woman shook her meaty paws at Aunt Ebena.
Alethea's aunt was a good stone lighter but taller than the woman, and her gimlet stare could have set a small fire. "I was present at the funeral. The solicitor clearly stated that the girl was the responsibility of her blood relatives. Of which I am not."
A light voice piped up at Alethea's elbow. "You might as well sit down. They've been at it for at least fifteen minutes."
Alethea started. A small girl sat in one of the hallway chairs shoved against the wall. She had been partially screened by the door when Alethea entered the house, and she hadn't noticed her.
The girl calmly sat as though awaiting an audience with the queen. She could be no more than eleven or twelve years old, with light brown hair in rather wild curls. Her dress was too short for her, exposing tanned forearms and dirty shoes and stockings. She also had a dark smudge of something across her nose, and another streak across her chin.
Alethea had rarely interacted with children. She had not been close friends with the women in the neighborhood of Trittonstone Park since they did not understand her love of music and considered her something of an oddity, so exposing their children to Alethea's unconventional notions had been the last wish of their hearts. At a loss, Alethea blurted out, "You have something on your face."
"Oh?" The girl scrubbed at her cheeks with a sleeve, which caused a grey mark to appear.
"I think it's from your dress."
The girl peered at her sleeve. "That must have been from the dog at the inn. He was quite dirty."
The woman in the hallway bellowed, "You are expected to undertake your husband's responsibilities."
"Expected by whom? The blood relatives who should be taking a more active interest in this matter?" Aunt Ebena shot back.
"What is happening?" Alethea asked the girl, feeling foolish doing so.
"They're arguing." The girl's tone implied Alethea was a bit of a simpleton not to have deduced that already.
Alethea's gaze narrowed. "That much is obvious. What are they arguing about?"
"Me, of course."
"What about you?"
"Why, if I shall come here to live."
* * *
Alethea had a coughing spell for a few moments. "Here? With Aunt Ebena?"
The girl's eyes brightened. "She's my aunt as well. That means we are cousins."
"Who are you?" Alethea asked belatedly.
Garen. The name of Aunt Ebena's husband. Alethea realized Margaret was looking at her expectantly. "I am Alethea Sutherton."
"Pleased to meet you," Margaret said as if they had been introduced over tea.
"Why would you stay here? Wouldn't you rather be with your mother?" Alethea glanced at the strange woman, still arguing. The sounds echoed off the walls of the foyer.
"She's not my mother. She's my Aunt Nancy. My parents are dead." Margaret said the words with unconcern, but Alethea noticed the tightening of the small mouth, the clenching of her hands in her lap.
"When did they die?" Alethea asked gently.
"Eight months ago. I have lived with Aunt Nancy since then, but she is terribly stuffy."
Something about the way Margaret said the word made Alethea remember her own childhood, ruled over by nursemaids and governesses. Alethea had grown old enough to rather pity those poor women. "Does your definition of stuffy mean intolerant of frogs in the drawing room seat cushions or something of that sort?"
Margaret grinned. Her blue eyes lit up, and twin dimples peeked out from her round cheeks. "I knew there was something about you I liked."
Alethea realized with a powerful sense of dread that perhaps she was being punished for all the mice in shoes and charcoal drawings on bed sheets that she had inflicted upon her childhood servants.
"Try and stop me!" roared Margaret's Aunt Nancy. She whirled around.
Alethea jumped aside before the large woman crashed into her and then was nearly clocked in the forehead by the front door being yanked open. She stumbled backward and ended up sitting in Margaret's lap. The girl gave a great, "Umph!"
A swirl of chill wind, then the deafening slam of the door. Alethea was left staring at the suddenly quiet hallway, broken only by the sound of Aunt Ebena's angry gasps. "How—! How dare she—!"
Alethea felt squirming beneath her.
"Could you get off me? You're terribly heavy." Margaret pushed at Alethea's back.
Alethea regained her feet and stood. She caught sight of the butler, the housekeeper, and the cook peeking from around the corner of the stairwell, round-eyed and pale. The other servants were probably peeking from the top of the stairs.
Aunt Ebena pressed a bony hand against her chest, which showed up white against the black silk and lace of her gown. Her wide grey eyes took in Alethea, standing awkwardly next to the trunk, then Margaret's small form in the hallway chair. Aunt Ebena took a breath as she straightened to her full height, pressing her thin lips closed and looking down her beaky nose at Margaret. Hill, send for Mr. Garen's solicitor," she ordered the housekeeper. "We shall get to the bottom of this."
Excerpted from Prelude to a Lord by Camille Elliot. Copyright © 2014 Camy Tang. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
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
I've long been a fan of Camy Tang, the author behind the pen name Camille Elliot, and knew she was a lover of all things Regency, but I wasn't sure I believed she could pull off writing the genre. Well, she can ... and with a little Camy Tang flavor to boot. This book had every thing I could love--A regency setting, characters who can understand the true power of music, action, suspense and mystery. It did not disappoint. Now, I'm hoping she'll turn it into a series so I can find out what happens to the other characters!!!
Really enjoyed this read. Recommend it.
Loved this read could not put it down. Read through the night worth the hours unslept! Lol
The plot involved musicians which was a change from the normal Regency period books! There was suspense and mystery to be solved!
Not a huge fan of this genre but enjoyed this book with an unconventional but believeable main character.
Prelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot is the first book in the Gentleman Quartet series. This novel takes the reader on a wonderful journey through England during the Regency era. Alethea Sutherton is a passionate violinist who is ostracized by Regency England due to her love for an instrument that is deemed inappropriate for a lady. However, when a thief will stop at nothing to steal her treasured violin, she must work with Lord Bayard Dommick, an expert violinist himself, but a man haunted by the tragedy of war. Can Alethea and Bayard heal one another as they discover the origins of Alethea’s violin? I was completely enthralled by this masterpiece, and because of it, I have fallen in love with the Regency era! I adore how the novel’s beautifully written descriptions of the music completely brought it to life and made it a prominent character in the story. It especially warmed my heart to see how Alethea and Bayard’s mutual understanding of music’s power and beauty brought them together! I also love how Elliot seamlessly incorporated Christianity into the novel as Alethea and Bayard learned that they needed God in their everyday lives! Overall, what made this novel stand out was its unpredictability as I never knew what was going to happen next! I highly recommend this novel! I cannot wait to read the future books of the Gentleman Quartet series!
I wasn't sure about this book at first. The Nook description of it was very vague and I had never read anything by this author until now. I was pleasantly surprised. It was a great book. I enjoyed the characters and the plot--the mystery of the violin. The only thing that bothered me was that they never seemed to involve the police whenever there was a break in or assalt, etc. They always handled it on there own... not sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. Anyway, this was an excellent book. Don't know if she has written other books about other characters from this book, butif not, she really should. I would love to readmore about them all.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the flawed yet endearing characters that worked their way into my heart! Alethea and Dommick are both prejudiced against the other due to an unfortunate meeting in their younger days, but as they work together to solve the mystery they are alternately attracted and frustrated by their strong personalities which eventually learn to play in harmony. The mystery wasn't an easy one to solve since there weren't many clues to work from and I felt Dommick's helplessness as he came up against one dead end after another. I admired Alethea's independence and resolution to not give up her passion for the violin even in the face of harsh social criticism. The friendships she forges with Dommick's close-knit group of musical peers is enjoyable and I hope the author will continue writing novels for those characters :) This is a book I'll definitely be re-reading in the future. (Thank you to Zondervan Publishing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)
Alethea and Dommick are two people who love creating music, particularly on their violins. But they are also two people with things from their past that haunt them and make them unable to truly trust in love. This engaging story is set in the Regency time period in England, full of strict social structure and rules. Add in a mysterious foe, who will do anything to procure Alethea’s precious violin, and you have a truly enjoyable story filled with love, deception, and danger. When I first began reading Prelude for a Lord, it took me a little time to get all of the characters straight. There are quite a few of them. But once I reasoned out who the various characters were, I realized that each one was important to the telling of the story. I really liked Alethea and Dommick, who each had things that hung over them. For Alethea, she has only truly been loved by two people, one is her half-sister and the other was a woman who was a music mentor to Alethea. She certainly never received any affection by the male members of her family. Learning to trust Lord Dommick is tricky when men have only treated her cruelly. This has also impacted Alethea spiritually. She has only ever witnessed hypocritical people who claim to love God and then treat others badly. She has much to learn in this book about God’s true love, and the process she goes through is beautiful. Lord Dommick simply wants to shed the past horrors of the battlefield that have their hold over him, and he hopes to give his sister a successful society season. Both are easier said than done. Dommick is such a great character. He is strong, but feels weak in many ways due to things he witnessed in battle. The way he cares for his mother and sister, and truly loves them, speaks volumes to Alethea about the kind of man he is. I really loved this book! It became so enthralling once Alethea and Dommick were thrown together to investigate the history of Alethea’s very old and precious violin. Dommick’s friends provide lightheartedness to the story and the attraction between Alethea and Dommick is wonderful. The romance that builds between these two is just perfect. There are so many sigh-worthy moments between them! The mystery is intriguing throughout the story, culminating in an exciting conclusion. I loved every path this story took and I am excited to see that this is the first book in the Gentlemen Quartet series. Thoroughly enjoyable. (5 stars) I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, through BookLook Bloggers, in exchange for an honest review.
I loved this book. The author did an excellent job with every part of this book. I especially enjoyed the descriptions of the music and how it affected the characters in the book. They lent an extra layer of interest to the story and allowed me to really connect with the characters, even though my interest in music is elementary at best. The characters were very well written. I could feel the struggle Alethea went through in her life. The emotions she had and the anger and bitterness she carried were tangible. Lord Dommick's struggle with PTSD (though it was not identified as such back in 1800's) was also tangible and well-incorporated in the story. Their romance was swift, but sweet. The message of the story was also very well written. Alethea struggled to learn that the God of her childhood was not the God real-life. The verses the author chose to use to portray this message to Alethea were unusual and well appreciated. Lord Dommick's struggle to capture the trust of his childhood, before the war, was relatable and real. Overall, this was a very enjoyable. I look forward to learning more about the rest of the phenomenal characters in this book! *I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via the BookLook blogging program in exchange for my honest review, which I have given.*
Camille Elliot in her new book, “Prelude for a Lord” published by Zondervan brings us into the life of Alethea Sutherton. From the back cover: An unconventional young woman. A haunted young man. A forbidden instrument. Can the love of music bring them together…or will it tear them apart? Bath, England 1810 At twenty-eight, Alethea Sutherton is past her prime for courtship; but social mores have never been her forté. She might be a lady, but she is first and foremost a musician. In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady. Ostracized by society for her passion, Alethea practices in secret and waits for her chance to flee to the Continent, where she can play without scandal. But when a thief ’s interest in her violin endangers her and her family, Alethea is determined to discover the enigmatic origins of her instrument … with the help of the dark, brooding Lord Dommick. Scarred by war, Dommick finds solace only in playing his violin. He is persuaded to help Alethea, and discovers an entirely new yearning in his soul. Alethea finds her reluctant heart drawn to Dommick in the sweetest of duets . . . just as the thief’s desperation builds to a tragic crescendo . . . What can I say about a book that deals with music and the violin? This is just truly marvelous. 1810 England has its own social issues and somehow women playing the violin is a terrible no-no. Of course that is the instrument Alethea plays. She meets up with Lord Dommick who also plays the violin and the romance begins to bloom. However there is someone who wants to steal the instrument and now these two have to find out who and why. “Prelude for a Lord” is a wonderful romance filled with mystery, intrigue, and scandal. These pages are filled with wonderful characters that live and breathe. “Prelude for a Lord” is full of reputation, finding yourself, finding your place in the world and romance. This is an interesting story filled with lots of excitement and romance as well as history. I liked it a lot. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Zondervan. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Enjoyable, encouraging read! I don't typically choose historical novels, but this one is great!
When I heard that Camile Elliot was putting out a Regency Romance, I was thrilled! I've read several awesome books by her in the past and I knew that I was in for a treat! I'm a newbie to Regency Romance books, but I love Camille's (aka Camy Tang) 'Sushi' series and her 'Protection for Hire' series. Camille knows how to write a wonderful, captivating story. She also excels at creating strong yet vulnerable female lead characters, and she achieved both in this fantastic book! Alethea is a strong woman. She's had to be. Betrayed by those she loves time and again, she's come to expect bitter disappointment. Her one solace is her music, even though it only serves to drive people away. Dommick is not stranger to disappointment, yet he is determined to make life perfect for his family. He accepts that he will never have the life he longs for, but he won't allow anything to damage the future happiness of his sister. The only thing that he has been able to keep for himself is his music. When they are forced together, Alethea's stubborness and her lack of interest in societies demands, cause fireworks. Dommick has burnt her before and she doesn't give trust easily. Dommick can't afford to have anyone associated with him that might negatively affect his image. Image is everything in his circles and Alethea appears to not care that she is looked on as odd and contrary. Brought together by the one passion they share, can they see past societies pressures - and the walls they've built - to bring harmony to each others worlds? I really enjoyed this book. Not only were the main characters engaging, I found myself wishing to know more about the secondary characters as well. It was fast-paced and yet nothing was sacrificed in the storyline to keep the readers attention! This is a book that I will re-read many times! 4.5/5 stars! I received this book from Zondervan in exchange for my honest review. I didn't HAVE to like it, but I sure did!!
I enjoy novels set in Regency England, so I decided this would be the perfect book to take with me on a recent trip to England. I loved this story about a young woman who was past her prime for marriage (at that time!), yet she was so secure in who she was...partly because she goes so counter to her times. An accomplished musician, she has to hide her best love (the violin) because it's unseemly for a woman to play the instrument. However, when someone takes an inordinate interest in her violin, she seeks help from a man who scorned her interest in the violin years ago during her season. This book has a compelling romance filled with insurmountable roadblocks. The mystery is rich -- one I thoroughly enjoyed. And the setting is layered in such a way I felt like I was transported into the story world...and it's one I want to return to again. There was something very fitting about reading this book while in England. I highly recommend it for those who love regency novels and for those who love historical romances with a strong mystery.
I've been a fan of Camy Tang's work since I first read her contemporary Sushi series in 2010. Since then, I've followed her into contemporary suspense and now into her first Regency. Though Prelude for a Lord is written under her pseudonym Camille Elliot, it contains all of the "romance with a kick of wasabi" that Camy Tang is known for in a believable, historically crafted world. Regencies are one of my favorite types of historicals to read (thank you, Jane Austen) and there have been many great Christian Regency titles over the past couple of years that I've enjoyed such as Kaye Dacus' Ransome Trilogy and of course, anything by the incomparable Julie Klassen. In Prelude for a Lord, Camille Elliot gives us Regency lovers everything we love about the genre, with a twist. For instance, because of the typical prime marriageable-age of women in the early 19th century, I'm used to seeing "younger" upper teen or early twenties heroines. Alethea Sutherton, has come to an understanding with her position in life, an acceptance that most likely comes with her age of "eight and twenty." Built on the fact that violins were not considered appropriate for ladies to play, Lady Alethea is a intriguing character. She has come to accepted her ostracization from proper society, not willing to give up her passion, but she feels the consequences of her decision (such as feelings of loneliness) as well. I think Elliot did a good job keeping her feelings believable and not too contemporary or modern for this time period. Of course, every Regency heroine needs a hero ... One of the things I appreciated with Lord Dommick, was Elliot's incorporation of what we now know as posttraumatic stress disorder (or PTSD). Dommick's war experiences triggered several breakdowns which led to rumors questioning his sanity. Now that his beloved younger sister, Clare, is about to make her debut, Dommick's main goal is to put those rumors to rest. Trust in others, and ultimately God, was the main spiritual theme I saw in this novel. Dommick feels he can't trust anyone else to ensure his sister's debut goes on without scandal, while events in Alethea's life has led her to believe that God has abandoned or doesn't care about her. For the most part, I think these threads were woven into the narrative in a believable way. There's also a bit of mystery, which fans of Camy Tang's contemporary suspense novels are sure to enjoy. I liked that there was more to the story than just a romantic thread and it kept me guessing until the climax. Camille (or Camy) has mentioned several times on her blog that she's loved reading Regencies since she was a teenager, and it shows. The names and dialogue felt appropriate for the time period. Some of the actions of certain characters seemed borderline-too-contemporary, but considering the premise, I don't think it was too much and it didn't pull me out of the experience. I also liked that discussion questions were included at the end of the novel but my favorite element was the "Cast of Primary Characters" which lists the characters and a brief description of their lives leading up to the novel. As someone who often got lost with "who was who" when reading Jane Austen, I thought this was perfect to add to a Regency. I sincerely hope that this will be the start of a new Regency series for Camille Elliot. I'd love to learn more about the rest of The Quartet and of course, see Clare Terralton's debut! *Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review, which I have done*
Admittedly, I am a fan of “all things Jane”- Jane Austen, Jane Eyre and yes ,even Jane Erstwhile from Austenland. And so to see another wonderful “Regency era” novel called Prelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot, arrive on the scene , well let’s just say it very much pleases my Austen-like sensibilities. We meet 28 year old Alethea Sutherton, our heroine and a virtual spinster in this time frame, as she is unmarried and absolutely not wishing to be, which of course makes her an unconventional character from the get-go. Instead Alethea’s dreams are to be a master at the violin and move to Italy where she might study under true masters without ridicule. The violin of course was not seen as an instrument fit for women to play as it was considered unladylike, because an elbow might be seen and that in Regency England is a bit scandalous. Enter in Lord Dommick and his quartet who is down one player due to the war, , also a violin player and of the opinion that women should not be playing the violin…until he actually hears Alethea play. And even, Lord Dommick or “Bay” as his friends call him can see the depth of her talent. One element that adds to her playing is the unique and beautiful sound of her violin. It turns out that there is a mystery surrounding this violin as someone wants to steal it and works very hard to do so. As this puts Alethea and her family in harms way, Bay steps in to help protect her and a relationship starts to form. There are many things to this story that I really enjoyed, obviously the conflict of the two main characters and the things they have to do to overcome to even begin a relationship. Bae is a man that is working so hard to hide secrets as he struggles with some post traumatic stress from his time in the war and fights to keep control in all situations. Because of times where he couldn’t, a former fiancé dubbed him the “Mad Baron” and he has been fighting that stigma and trying to do everything he could to right his family’s standing in society especially for his sister’s sake so that she would have a chance to marry well. Alethea on the other hand has all but given up caring what those around her think of her and only wants to escape to Italy where she can pursue her musical dreams. And so Bae ,who thinks he will never marry because of his secrets and Alethea .who has no idea of ever marrying and is only biding her time until she can leave for Italy , somewhow make an unlikely couple. I thought this story was very well executed and had all the elements that I love in a good Regency novel plus a little bit more. In the Regency novels that I have enjoyed, it usually centers around a strong female character who is making the best of her situation which is usually not an optimal one for her based on the time frame and the fact that she is a woman. But through her strength of character, she is able to pull through. We definitely see that in the character of Alethea . Besides Alethea, Camille Elliot manages to give us other really interesting characters with some good depth to them, witty dialogue, and a lot of excitement and mystery surrounding the violin thrown in for good measure. I really enjoyed how both characters seemed to really help and compliment each other just by being who they were. And so I would recommend this one to those “fans of all things Jane” like myself. It was a lovely read! I was given a complimentary copy of this novel by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. 5 stars
Prelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot Early 1800s England was not very accepting of women playing certain instruments. Specifically the violin. Alethea Sutherton was the type of female who when told not to do something...did it. She excelled at playing the violin, even if only within her own home. A violin that was from one of two people who ever had shown her love, she now finds her treasure the target of a thief. Lord Dommick, Bayard, is scarred by war and now his family has been scarred as well. Nasty rumors from his former betrothed has put his sister’s coming out into a poor light and he will do what he can to restore his families reputation. The last thing he needs is to be tangled up with the prickly female violinist who is already shunned by the London ton. As important as family is, honor and protecting is also a strong trait in Bayard. He cannot let Alethea battle the unknown enemy alone. He also is too honorable to allow any woman to be entangled with his scarred heart. A romance with suspense tangled throughout the story. A young woman who goes against the norm to love her base-born sister and find solace in her own musical talent. The story keeps the reader unsure who the villain is. It also reminds the reader that both in fiction and real life how easy it is to try and get by on our own instead of turning to God. A wonderful read. I hope that we will see more books about the secondary characters who also came to life in this story. **Received a copy through the publisher for an honest review
Other than Jane Austen's famous novels, I don't think I've read much Regency fiction. Come to think of it, this may be my first outside of classics. I usually actively avoid novels labeled "romance" just because they tend to be cliche and really not my preference, but when I saw this one was Regency with music, I thought I'd give it a go. And as far as the music aspect is concerned, I liked it. Alethea is described as a young woman who is unlike most of the young women of England. She loves her half-sister, Lucy, who happens to be a lady's maid, and she thrives on music - especially the violin, an instrument society says is strictly for men. Her brother is after her to get married for his own monetary purposes, yet Alethea finds refuge for a while with a rather commanding aunt. She takes charge of a young ward of her aunt's, Margaret, and does what she can to enjoy music and keep away from men as all previous interaction with them has proven awful on her part. But that's before someone offers to buy her violin from her... and then later someone attempts to steal it... and then even later someone attempts to kidnap her. Alethea is forced to accept the help of a certain Lord Dommick, a well-known musician who believes, along with society, that women shouldn't play the violin. I enjoyed reading their spats near the beginning of the story, yet I thought their banter kinda flattened toward the middle and end. They were just a little too moody for my taste. The beginning of the story was choppy, and it took me a while to get into it. Margaret was my favorite character, and I was disappointed that she wasn't more of a central character. From trying to find Alethea's "treasure" to fighting with the rector's daughters, she was full of fun and never once boring. Lord Ian, too, was incorrigible and fun to read. He had a brother relationship with Dommick/Bayard that I really liked, and he was very protective of Dommick's sister, Clare. [SPOILER] In my personal opinion, I would have preferred to see a romance pop up between Ian and Clare rather than having to read the one between Dommick and Alethea. But *sigh* nothing ever came of it. [END OF SPOILER] Even Aunt Ebena improved upon further reading. She reminded me of the snobby aunt from Rebecca of Sunnybrooke Farm, and just with all snobby aunts, she becomes a kindred spirit. Although I like that, it's becoming just a tick cliche. Let's have some snobby uncles pervading literature now, shall we? I loved the passages with the music! As a musician, I can relate, and the experience of being caught up in a song is just as amazing as the author described here. However, I was a little irritated in one scene where Alethea played the harpsichord for an evening gathering and conducted a serious conversation with several people while she played -- from memory -- several Bach selections. She would get lost in her violin music to the point of not knowing who was around her, yet when she played the harpsichord, she was so indifferent to it that she could play and focus rather on a conversation leading away from the music? This is a pet peeve of mine, and I hope you don't mind the musician's rant, but when I play the piano, I PLAY the piano. If you love music as Alethea appears to, you don't sacrifice the song in order to talk. There's no way to keep the music's intensity up if you're holding chit chat on the side. Advisory: Obviously, romance. *shakes head* I knew there were reasons I stayed away from romance novels. Definitely not my favorite thing to review, but let's see if I can give it a go. [SPOILER] In one scene, a young man attempts to kiss Clare, leading to his abrupt dismissal from the house and giving a bad reputation to his name. However, later on, Dommick kisses Alethea twice and yet no one makes a big deal about it. [END OF SPOIKER] Really? If we're going to support a theme, might as well support it throughout the entire book instead of just when the author prefers. I found that annoying. [SPOILER] Dommick and Alethea marry in the course of the novel, a marriage of convenience to protect Alethea from marrying the horrid Mr. Kinnier. As neither was ready to admit that they loved the other right away, their relationship was awkward, and I didn't like some of what was implied involving that. [END OF SPOILER] The book would have been a lot better off without mentioning those few things. Other than that, a few men flirt and make advances upon ladies of their choice, some not so nice. For all of that, I'd definitely recommend this book for mature readers, even for readers over 15 or 16 years of age. *Please note: I received a free copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest review.*
Before reading Prelude for a Lord, I never would've imagined that playing a violin would have been considered inappropriate for a woman in Regency England. But for Lady Alethea Sutherton to already be something of an outcast in her society--on account of her unmarried state at twenty-eight years, her tallness, and her independent ways of thinking--moving her body around so much in order to play a violin must have been quite the peculiar icing on the cake. Now, in case you might not have guessed so by looking at the book cover, this novel includes quite a bit of action and suspense, and I was enthralled by the depth of passion author Camille Elliot infused into her portrayal of Alethea and Lord Dommick's relationship. They aren't two PEOPLE who are merely attracted physically or are thrown into lovesick tizzies on account of each other, but they understand each other, they're mutually strengthened by the thought and presence of one another. Then, not to mention the vivid and moving imagery wrapped up in this novel's music, which drew my senses deeper into the story. Some parts of the book did get a little tedious to me, and the mentioning of Alethea's hurt and loneliness seemed repetitive at spots instead of revealing something new about her to progress the STORY, but the tension, the longing, the artistry, and the romance of the rest made up for that. All in all, a superb read! _________________ BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review.