Review: The Lost Heiress

The Lost Heiress The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is quite an interesting novel, not the usual fare. It has a faint flavor of Gothic romance where the villain is most wicked and vile, and the hero and heroine are good and kind with imperfections. They are very believable characters, which makes this an excellent read.

The story line is very good. Beginning in Monaco and moving to early Edwardian England's high society with Earls and Dukes and Baronesses. These are treated accurately. Justin discovers who Brook's father is, and is delighted she is a baroness so he can marry her.

But life is full of wickedness and greed. There is one who is counting on wealth, but the sudden appearance of Brook changes the direction of this pursuit of wealth. It is a lively story, but there is a hint early in the story that not even Sherlock Holmes would be able to catch. From an editor's point of view, this hint should have been developed earlier rather than waiting until the middle of the book to find out what the wicked person is trying to steal. That part was rather annoying.

I quite admire her development of the wicked Pratt. White drew this character exquisitely so that any mention of his name made hairs stand up on my neck.

There are some historical flaws, though, in the book. The era is 1910's England and Monaco. Society had not quite shaken off the Victorian era, and hemlines had not risen above the ankles. British society was still gridlocked in societal norms such as straight backs, no slumping, no outward displays of emotions such as man-hugs or tight pants for women lest the person(s) be ostracized. Rigid etiquette was absolute.

The friendliness displayed between the servants and their employers is depicted with a bit of a heavy hand. Again, with so much attention to getting the details correct, this slight variation stands out starkly. Kindnesses shown to servants were not uncommon, but a Lady would not drive her servant to a train station. Perhaps after the War, but certainly not before.

To be fair, White did have someone read the novel to catch and delete any Americanisms. Unfortunately, her penchant for nicknames detracts from this elegant story. Nick names were not something the Brits were prone to bestow in Edwardian Great Britain. Last names were used between the men. No one ever addressed a person by their given name except in private. It was always My Lady, or My Lord, Lord So-n-So, and so forth. The use of nick names in this book is jolting. Especially the shortening of names was a faux pas in the extreme. Whitby would never have been shortened to Whit. In extreme emotional situations, a man might address a nobility equal with his last name, but never a shortened version. Etiquette was so stringent you could smell the vinegar in it.

The fact that a book follows so closely the etiquette, dress, and addresses of the day, but allow some of these errors makes the errors stand out all the more.

I particularly love the way White braids faith into the story. Each character has a different expression of faith, and it makes the story and characters all the more real.

Another good character development is that White highlights the Earl's emotional constraints with his daughter, Brook. It is so delicious when he finally gives her a fatherly hug. There are many other jewels in this novel that not only move the story along, but draw the tension so tight one could walk upon it. Story telling done very, very well.

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