Sunday, August 15, 2021

Manor for Sale, Baron Included (A Romance of Rank #1) by Esther Hatch (author), Noah Wall (narrator)

Esther Hatch, June 2021

Lord Farnsworth is struggling with the financial challenges created by the repeal of the Corn Laws and the consequent hardships of his tenants on the entailed properties inherited from his father. The only property he owns that isn't entailed, that he can sell, is the estate inherited from his mother. Unfortunately, in addition to his deep attachment to his mother's home, where he spent every winter until her death, it's also the only one that's currently profitable. The tenants there are raising sheep, not grain, so the drop in grain prices has made their farms more profitable, not less.

His solicitor startles him with a proposal to sell only the manor. There's an offer from a very successful merchant, the owner of British Vermilion Textiles, who wants only the manor. The other surprise is that this merchant is a woman, an unmarried woman, Sally Duncan. After his initial very negative reaction, Lord Farnsworth, i.e. Jonathan, has a clever idea that will solve all his problems.

Miss Duncan, of course, has her own plans, that do not include marrying a baron who is apparently so poor at money management and so profligate that he has to sell a valuable part of his inheritance in order to make ends meet. And for all her attention to details, she misses the detail in the contract that means that in addition to retaining ownership of all the lands except for right around the manor, including the hunting lodge, the dividing line between the two properties goes right through the middle of the pond between the manor and the lodge.

It's a great surprise when, a few days after having moved in, she looks out and sees a man swimming in what she believes is her pond. This is annoying to her, but seriously objectionable with regard to her younger sister, who will be moving in with her shortly. Victoria is only fourteen, and the standards of Victorian England mean that the sight of a man whose shirt and breeches are clinging to his form due to being wet, is shocking and completely unacceptable. Since Victoria is also crippled and mostly confined to a wheelchair, Sally is also caught between the need to protect her, and the need to encourage greater confidence and independence.

She's hoping the baron will leave soon. Jonathan has no intention of leaving without Sally's agreement to marry him.

Sally isn't the usual sort of lady Jonathan meets in London society, and doesn't find is title nearly as attractive as most ladies to. Jonathan, in turn, is not the sort of minor noble Sally has met before, focused solely on producing an heir to keep his lands and titles in his own line, and regarding daughters as optional extras, acceptable as long as there is also a son. He wants a happy family to fill his mother's house, and doesn't care that much about his title.

What follows is a comedy of errors, miscommunication, and misunderstandings. It's light, silly, and a lot of fun.

A nice listen if you're looking for light entertainment on a too-warm day.

I bought this audiobook.

No comments:

Post a Comment