My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Lady Alethea Sutherton, main character in Camille Elliot’s regency romance Prelude for a Lord, is a social misfit, not only because of her suitorless old maid status, but because of her musical interest in the violin which is thought entirely unladylike.
For her part, Alethea has long since ceased to care, much to the chagrin of Aunt Ebena. Alethea has come to Bath to stay with her aunt after cousin Will kicked her out of the family home. Now she is living for the day she reaches her majority, gains her inheritance, and can flee England to the musically rich continent.
But the appearance in Bath of Baron Dommick, a musician she admired from her own disastrous season in London eleven years ago, and society’s demands soon have her attending balls and hobnobbing with members of a male string ensemble. Meanwhile she senses she is being watched, followed, and then is approached by a succession of sinister men who demand she sell her violin.
Main male character Baron Dommick’s reputation has been compromised by the effects of war. Despite that, he feels driven to ensure that his sister Clare’s upcoming season in London will be a success. This means making the right social moves in all departments. He is attracted to Alethea but could her strong personality impede his goal? And what if she should discover the real self he hides under that handsome exterior?
Elliot has combined compelling characters (including a list of who the various characters are, their many names and how they’re related to each other) with a circuitous plot that includes solving the mystery of Alethea’s violin.
As is characteristic of the genre, there is lots of wit and dialogue that sparkles. The writing is wonderful throughout:
“Then another crash, something heavy and wooden dropping to the floor accompanied by a tinkling descant of shattering pottery” – Kindle Location 2613.
“…the chapel lay empty and forgotten much of the time, an abandoned mother longing for her grown-up children” – Kindle location 5265.t:
Compelling themes include an exploration of how women in the regency era are treated and whether God cares for individuals—an issue especially for Alethea who feels as if God dislikes her, seeing as how He never came to her aid when her father, brother, and cousin abused her. Questions at the end of the book encourage readers to discuss, personalize, and apply what they’ve read.
Prelude for a Lord is a combination I found irresistible. It’s a tale I would hazard even Jane Austen would love.
I received Prelude for a Lord as a gift from the publisher for the purpose of writing a review.