Sunday, September 16, 2012
The American Heiress-For the Love of Money
by Daisy Goodwin
Cora Cash is the beautiful and very rich heiress to the Cash Finest Flour fortune. Her mother Nancy Lovett-Cash is the social climbing mother who lost her beauty when her light enriched dress and veil, meant to impress, at her daughter's come out ball, bursts into flames disfiguring the left side of her face.
Mrs. Cash arranges to go to England where Madeline Wyndham, the American connection in Europe to meeting and marrying titled aristocrats (for a nominal fee). Cora, and her mother, are discreetly introduced to Ivo Maltraverse, Ninth Duke of Wareham, tall, dark and looking for a rich heiress. They marry and on their honeymoon fall in love.
Wareham's flamboyant mother, Fanny aka the Double Duchess, plays the evil mother-in-law. She is now remarried to the Duke of Buckingham, but still carries on with the Prince of Wales. Cora has to fight her at every corner for control of her own home. Adjusting to the old world ways would be fairly easy if only the rules were spelled out, but they are not. Cora is in a constant state of confusion and embarrassment and her husband, although forgiving, does not help. Wareham has the typical English gentleman affliction of not being able to open up and share himself, even with his wife. He leaves no question that he loves her but does not help her adjust, and in some cases he aides in creating obstacles, and he uses his temper to control her...but he does appreciate her money. Luckily her father allotted him a set amount upon their marriage but left her fortune in her control.
Her closest friend, Lady Charlotte Beauchamp neice of Lady Fanny, is a wolf in sheep clothing. Her husband, Lord Ido, nephew of Ivo, is the drunkard and letcherous teller of tales who imposes his slimey self on Duchess Cora. Charlotte avails herself to the Duke Ivo at every opportunity while setting Cora up for humiliation at the hands of the infamous artist Loudain. Then again at a dinner given for the Prince of Wales, where the new Duchess learns there is more to her husband's relationship with Charlotte. It is then she realizes she is a pawn for her mother's social climbing and for her husband, who profits from her fortune and the son she gives him. No one seems to truly care about her except the Prince and her childhood friend, Teddy Van Der Leyden, who finally declares his love for her and reveals he saw Charlotte and Ivo together at the station when he was leaving to sail to America to marry her. They seemed to be in a romantic haze together. He talks her into running away with him to London. Ivo intercepts her enroute and finally opens up to her about his past, Charlotte and his dead brother, Guy. At last the barriers are down and the love flows in.
This is a charming book that is slow at first but opens into a romantic mystery. It is well written, the characters and story line develops in an interesting manner.