First Season / Bride to Be by Jane Ashford
This compilation of two early novels by Jane Ashford are a treat. Well crafted and engaging, you can see the Heyer influence, particularly in some of the secondary characters such as Emily Crane's mother. Both novels are succinctly written and still a pleasure to read more than 15-30 years on.
First Season 1983
A young widow, Lady Anabel Wyndham, joins her mother for the London season. Having married at a young age she has never experienced the social whirl and gaiety of this social event. A confirmed rake, Sir Charles Norbury is attracted by Anabel's looks and conversation. Here is no simpering chit out of the school room or jaded widow. He sweeps Anabel off her feet. Much to the disgust of her young children and the chagrin of her long time friend, Christopher Hanford. Christopher has loved her from afar and been a stalwart companion in her time of need.
Christopher is determined to leave London but something is not quite right about how Anabel is with Norbury. The children take matters into their own hands bringing things to a head. Young Susan Wyndham and her cat are indeed forces to be reckoned with!
Bride to be 1999
Having parents who have shunned the life of the ton to pursue their own interests make for a different upbringing. Emily Crane certainly is an extraordinary young woman, quietly able to cope with more than her fair share of harrowing situations. When she rescues a handsome stranger from being killed she little knew that they would meet again in the ballrooms of London, and that their circumstances would enforce an engagement. Apart from feeling guilty about the engagement, Emily becomes concerned that the 'accidents' that continue to happen to Lord Richard Sheldon are more than that, and sets about investigating them. The engagement continues--just in order to find out what's going on! As Lord Richard and Emily continue their charade, both become aware of stronger feelings, which of course they hide from each other. Which leads to even more complications!
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