High Society, Bad Behaviour - The summer of 1920 brings illicit affairs to stately home Deverell Hall. Lords, ladies, butler and maids all succumb to the spirit of the roaring 1920s as sex and scandal take over.
Lord Deverell's new wife has the house in thrall to her theatrical glamour. His womanising son, Sir Charles, has his eye on anything female that moves while his beautiful daughter, Mary, is feeling more than a little restless.
And why does his younger son, Sir Thomas, spend so much time in the company of the second footman?
Into this simmering tension comes new parlour maid, Edie, with a secret of her own – a secret that could blow the Deverell family dynamic to smithereens.
REVIEW BY ANITA
Edith arrives at Deverell Hall as the new parlour maid, and is told from her first day to avoid his lordship's eldest son, Charles, a womanizer who is not only conducting a liaison with the lady of the house, but who allegedly got another servant in the family way, and subsequently deserted her.
Edie isn’t really a maid; she's playing a part, but it’s one for which she is ill-prepared. Her speech is too cultured and she spoils an ormolu clock by cleaning it incorrectly, her sewing is bad and her silver service worse; setbacks that reduce Edie to tears. On top of that, within twenty-four hours of her arrival, while purporting she is determined not to - she attracts the attention of the blackguard, Charles.
However, when he does the hooking-his-little-finger thing and orders her to his room, does Edie even hesitate for as long as it takes to check she has clean knickers on? Nope, she’s up those stairs as fast as she can go. In fact, she capitulates so easily, it's hard not to believe this wasn't her intention from the start.
Edie is a reluctant mistress and makes it clear to Charles she is only in his bed so as to keep Lady Deverell out of it; hardly an effective seduction technique, but Edie has him coming back for more.
Despite her ineptitude as a parlour maid, Lady Deverell, the former actress Ruby Redford, takes Edie to be her personal maid, a promotion resented by the other staff, and done ostensibly to keep Edie out of the grasp of Charles, for the lady of the house wants him for herself - and of course she’s having him, too!
So why does Edie think Lady Deverell needed saving? Presumably so she could go on being supported in the manner into which she has manipulated herself - an ex-actress who has landed a rich, older member of the peerage. That Charles will keep his side of the bargain seems unlikely and Edie has no weapons to ensure he does.
Ms Elyot is an accomplished writer, the narrative is eloquent, and the atmosphere of a post WWI aristocratic household well drawn. I guessed Edie's secret, but her methods do seem a little odd.
The plot picks up toward the end and things begin to happen, thus, for those who like explicit sex and gleaming Rolls Royces being polished by buff chauffeurs thrown in, this could be the story for you.
Anita Davison is a Historical Fiction Author whose latest release, ‘Royalist Rebel’ a biographical novel set in 17th Century England released by Claymore Press under the name Anita Seymour.
Anita's Blog: http://thedisorganisedauthor.blogspot.com