|Sorry again for the glare :/|
Elvina, cruelly ill-treated by her Portuguese step-other, decides to run away an d leave Lisbon, where she has been living, for England. Dyeing her blonde hair, she hides on board the yacht of Lord Wye, who came with dispatches for the Duke of Wellington…
Elvina stood before the ship's captain feeling more afraid than she'd guessed she would. She watched him appraise her black hair, dyed the night before, her skin, darkened with berry juice, her skinny frame of a figure. She could see that he believed her story-- that she was an orphaned Portugese child. "What is your name?" he asked. "Elvina?" She said. "What is your surname?" "I haven't one," she lied. "Everyone has a surname," he said patiently. "Come child, why don't you answer my question?" "It is a lady's privilege," Elvina said with a toss of her head, "to be unpredictable." With that Lord Wyse laughed heartily. "I am ashamed to admit it," he told her frankly, "but I think I shall enjoy having you aboard."(from Goodreads)
(FYI this book is set against the Napoleonic Wars in 1813)
I love this book!
Elvina is a girl with her head fixed firmly on her shoulders when she needs it (not that she doesn’t go all girly and flake out at some points) and really pulls her own weight when she ends up following behind an army and coming into contact with things that would send other girls into a dead faint.
Lord Wye made a wonderful leading man as he tried his best to protect Elvina – although like most Barbara Cartland heroes he is a bit dim in his dealings with the fairer sex.
One of the funny things about this book is that Lord Wye has a fair amount of internal wresting going on when he finds himself in love with Elvina. Yay, he is on love with her. All good and well you may think. Yeah, well, you’d be wrong. She had disguised herself as a child and he is worrying, thinking that he has developed a romantic attachment to a 12 year old girl.
But, the one thing that I love about this story is that their feelings grow during less than ideal circumstances. They are trailing behind an army and trying to survive. It doesn’t matter how rose-tinted you romance glasses are it would be pretty icky. Mud, blood, and sweat…So I found this to be a nice change from royal courts, country mansions and intrigue. The danger was a lot more immediate.
‘You would not marry me if I were a penniless soldier, without wealth or title.’‘Why should I throw myself away on anyone in such circumstances?’ Lady Cleone asked, her eyes flashing.‘Why should you indeed?’ Lord Wye replied. ‘Yet if she loved such a man – Elvina would.’