THE LAST DEBUTANTE – Julia London
A Perfect 10
Secrets of Hadley Green , Book 4
The Scottish Highlands, 1811
At twenty-one, Miss Daria Babcock may be the last debutante in Hadley Green, a small West Sussex village. All her contemporaries are married and having babies, but with her parents wrapped up in each other and their experiments breeding orchids, they don't have the inclination to give her a Season on London. Daria has nothing to look forward to other than becoming the spinster of Hadley Green. Then comes a letter from her dear Grandmother Moss in Scotland asking for her father's help. Daria begs to go in his stead and is finally allowed to carry out the mission. Even accompanied part way by a friend, the way to her dear Mamie is difficult. The end of the road takes her to a small tenant cottage empty but for a man in bed, a naked man clothed only in a few bandages. Worried that her elegant Mamie seems to be living in such a place and where she can be at the moment, Daria is both fearful and entranced by the sight of this gorgeous man. What Daria doesn't know but soon suspects is that her grandmother is really in trouble. When the wounded man wakes up from the sleep induced by Mrs. Moss's potions, he pretends at first that he doesn't remember who shot him or why.
The naked man is Jamie Campbell, Laird of the Dundavie Campbells. It's a difficult time for the clan, what with a greedy Englishman buying up land and importing sheep that are ruining the local livelihood and an old Englishwoman taking the clan monies from Jamie's dotty Uncle Hamish. (Who else but Daria's grandmother?) Jamie is handsome and appealing to all the ladies, but he doesn't understand women very well. Daria, in turn, has never felt an attraction toward a man until now, when he might very well be her enemy.
And this is only the beginning of a fascinating tale with many threads and colorful characters, as well as a plethora of stumbling blocks to trip over if any permanent relationship could ever become possible between Jamie and Daria.
If I could only use one word to describe THE LAST DEBUTANTE it would be “lively” as something happens on every page. Other adjectives might be amusing, romantic, suspenseful, gripping, or just plain perfect. In fact, the whole series makes for grand reading. THE LAST DEBUTANTE stands very well alone, but if you haven't read the earlier novels in the Secrets of Hadley Green series, I highly recommend them all to you. In sequence, they are: THE YEAR OF LIVING SCANDALOUSLY, THE REVENGE OF LORD EBERLIN, THE SEDUCTION OF LADY X, and this one, THE LAST DEBUTANTE. Don't miss it.