AND THE MISS RAN AWAY WITH THE RAKE – Elizabeth Boyle
Rhymes With Love , Book 2
The notorious Seldon family has dwindled down to a few. There are only the orphaned Duke of Preston; his uncle Lord Henry and aunt Lady Juniper, who are twins...and the never to be forgotten Great-Aunt Zillah. Preston, Henry and Hen, being much of an age, are good friends. In a family known for rakes and roués for generations, Lord Henry is an anomaly, a sober and sensible man. And though Preston has recently reformed with his love for and betrothal to a vicar's daughter, he's not above teasing his uncle. Preston places an ad in the Morning Chronicle that states: “Sensible gentleman of means seeks a sensible lady of good breeding for correspondence, and in due consideration, matrimony.” A flood of replies addressed to A Sensible Gentleman are sent to Henry's town house that is presently rented to an annoyed Lady Taft, who forwards them on to Henry where he lives with Preston and Hen, now widowed again. It's Henry's intention to burn the lot until one reply catches his eye.
Three friends from a country village have come to Town in hopes of finding husbands. One of them is wildly in love and soon to marry a duke, but Miss Daphne Dale is disillusioned with London Society and its frivolous men. The ad in the paper catches her eye, and she dares to answers it.
What follows is a comedy of errors and misunderstandings when a lively correspondence is begun between Daphne, writing as Miss Spooner, and Mr. Dishforth (Lord Henry). It goes on for weeks, and both parties are intrigued. Daphne keeps on the lookout at balls and elsewhere hoping to identify her Mr. Dishforth. She learned from a letter that he plans to attend a ball on the night of Tabitha and Preston's betrothal ball. Could this be the night she finds him?
Daphne and Henry are destined to meet, and they do. Both are delighted to think they've found the one and share a rather passionate dance…without an introduction. But soon they learn each other's identity. Disaster!! A feud between the Dales and the Seldons has existed for generations; the families despise each other! Neither can now believe they have found the correspondent with whom they have so much in common. Worse, since Henry is Preston's best man and Daphne is Tabitha's maid of honor, they must dance the dinner dance and sup together. The strong attraction they earlier felt aside, Daphne believes in the highly exaggerated rumors about Lord Henry, and he finds Daphne to be a shrew. Worse is yet to come. They are expected to attend a two-week house party before the wedding. Daphne only agrees to attend—despite her family's displeasure were they to find out—because she still must find her Mr. Dishforth.
AND THE MISS RAN AWAY WITH THE RAKE is an entertaining novel with sprightly dialogue and comic incidents. Regency romance purists might quibble with the waltz being so accepted in 1810 and calling young ladies of good family “bits of muslin” (usually used to refer to “lightskirts”), but otherwise the tale has much to recommend it. The two great-aunts are characters, and Tabitha's dog is still a source of amusement. Others from book one in the series, ALONG CAME A DUKE (Preston and Tabitha's story), are still around and will be seen again in the forthcoming third book, IF WISHES WERE EARLS, coming in time to warm us up this winter.