BOUND BY DUTY – Diane Gaston
The Scandalous Summerfields , Book One
England – 1815
The three Summerfield daughters are on their own after the death of their father. A distant relative is the heir, and he wants them out of their family home. With no one to help them, and no place to go, the eldest, Lorene, weds elderly neighbor, Lord Tinmore. He has promised to provide dowries for younger sisters Tess and Genna, who are both horrified that Lorene sacrificed so much for them. And so, they move to Tinmore's estate with the assurance that a London season, and potential husbands, await. Hopefully the girls can overcome the scandals their parents have left them. Their mother was known for her affairs and, in fact, it is rumored that each girl may have been fathered by different men. Then there is their father who sired a son with another woman, then foisted the boy on his wife. To top it off, there is the knowledge that the outrageous Mrs. Summerfield ran off with her last lover.
After the move to Tinmore Hall, the three sisters prepare for a house party to introduce Lorene to his friends. While Genna pouts in disgust, practical Tess moves on, hoping to make a match with Mr. Welton, whom she met recently. On the day of the party, Tess decides to walk to the village to buy some embellishment for their gowns. But on her way back, the weather turns wild, rain coming down so hard that flooding prevents Tess from returning to Tinmore Hall. Lost, soaked to the skin, Tess is rescued by a passing rider.
Marc Glenville, on his way to London after completing his duty to the government by spying in France, chances upon a young woman slogging through the mud and rain. He helps her onto his horse, and they find their way to a deserted cabin. Fortunately it is a keeper's shelter and Marc is able to not only stable his horse in a dry area, but to build a fire and help Tess get warm. Unfortunately, they are unable to leave until the next morning when Lord Tinmore's men find them. There is nothing to be done, Tess's reputation is in ruins, and Marc offers marriage. Sadly, Marc's family is just as known in the ton as the Summerfields. His father wed a French woman whom he fell in love with, but she was not accepted by society, and now the two are estranged, although residing in the same house.
With the move to London and to Marc's parents' home, Tess hopes for a marriage of more than convenience. But immediately after their wedding night, Marc drops a bombshell on her, and Tess loses what optimism she held for their future.
BOUND BY DUTY is the story of two people whose honor is important, and how to defend that honor and their family histories is the backbone of the tale. Tess is a strong young woman, but the desertion of her mother has always been difficult to understand. Marc loves his parents, but despairs of their treatment of one another. And his duty to England makes his life with Tess tenuous.
Nicely written and with wonderful characters, BOUND BY DUTY was a delightful story. I think readers will enjoy this new series, and I look forward to the next book, ONE SCANDALOUS NIGHT, coming soon.