THE CHARMING DEVIL - Lesley-Anne McLeod
England - 1807
Cecily Northcott has found that her life is in limbo once again. She had been shuttled off to an ancient great-aunt in the north of England after, at the tender age of seventeen, she was seduced by a rogue, and found herself with child. Her parents essentially disowned her, sending an annual pittance to her aunt for housing Cecily, her little girl, Lucy, and Cecily's former nursemaid, Fally. But when the aunt died, Cecily had no response from her family, so Fally offered to take them all to her sister's cottage in Wiltshire. With no other options, Cecily reluctantly agreed, feeling she was imposing on the hospitality of friends. With a six-year-old daughter to raise, no money, and no family to speak of, Cecily settles into the loving home of Fally's sister, Kesiah, earning a little income by assisting Kesiah with her sewing. Cecily will never forgive or forget the handsome young man who destroyed her life.
Seven years ago, Darius, Lord Knyckham, was a wild, wicked scoundrel who, despite inheriting his title at a young age, neglected his family estate, and paid more attention to his conquests and rabble-rousing ways. That all ended when his curricle crashed, his horses killed, and Darius left as a mangled, severely injured wreck. It was his luck that Zachariah (Rye) Marton happened upon the accident. Rye nursed him back to a fragile health, filling in the blanks left in Darius' memory, and helping to get Brasehill, Darius' estate, back in order. These days, Darius lives at the main house with his great-aunt, Donia, steering clear of London and all its temptations, and working with Rye to make his tenants lives better. He is intrigued when the local seamstress has her sister and a young woman and child move in, especially when the child shouts at them as they pass the seamstress' cottage.
Attending the village church for the first time, Cecily is horrified to recognize the man who seduced her as the local viscount. She immediately makes plans to leave, even though she has no money and no prospects. However, her terror is lessened when she realizes that the man does not recognize her, and later learns that his memory was damaged in his accident. But what if his memory returns? Where can she go, and how will she raise her daughter with no family support?
THE CHARMING DEVIL is an engaging Regency romance filled with local dialogue, endearing characters, and an interesting premise. What should a rogue do to compensate for his past transgressions? And how can a young woman regain her standing in the community if she must carry the burden of an illegitimate child? This well-written, entertaining tale will be enjoyed by all Regency readers.