Mary Whitsun has been a minor character throughout several of the Maiden Lane books. Finally, it is her turn to find happiness and love.
Mary was an orphan left at the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children. She formed a strong bond with Temperance, Lady Caire, while living at the home. Now, she is nursemaid for Temperance’s children. She has a good life, even if, at times, Mary wishes for more.
That “more” finds her one day when she is roaming a bookshop on her day off. She finds a handsome and clearly aristocratic man staring at her. She tries to brush him off but he persists in introducing himself. He believes her to be Lady Joanna, his fiance, until he realizes that Mary looks just like Joanna.
Suddenly, the possibility that Mary is related to the wealth, to privilege, is thrust into her life.
Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell, has always done as he is told in his family. He is betrothed to Johanna, even though he does not love her. He knows their match is good for the family. But, meeting Mary, the woman he believes he was supposed to be engaged to, but who was kidnapped as a baby, well, Henry is starting to see the world in a different light. Mary challenges his preconceived notions of privilege and wealth, the very world he has taken for granted. And the more time he spends with her, the more he wants to be with her forever.
This is a novella which makes me somewhat sad because honestly, I would have loved a full-length book about Mary and Henry. They really stand out as characters. I absolutely loved Mary, as I knew I would. She is a caring young woman who is trying to be content with her lot in life. She knows she has a good situation, working with the Caires who genuinely care for her. It’s not easy always wanting just a little more though.
Henry is a typical handsome Lord but when he is with Mary, his person shines a little brighter, he is a bit wittier and he finds himself falling hard for her. Meeting Mary actually makes Henry a more interesting character in my eyes because she has a worldview that he would never have had the chance to know.
That being said, I was a bit afraid with how the story started because well, Ms. Hoyt takes on the classic romance trope of the orphan heroine finding out she is suddenly wealthy. I was hoping Ms. Hoyt would challenge this a bit and she does! So, do not fear. There is more to this story than meets the eye, even if the story becomes a tad melodramatic at the end.
That being said, honestly this is just a fun and lovely story. I am so happy Mary found her person, a life for herself and the opportunity for happiness when she least expected it. There aren’t enough servant historical romances (or I’m just not reading enough of them) so I was doubly thrilled Elizabeth Hoyt tackled this.
And the ending… I’m going to go full on cliche here and say, my heart soared for Mary and Henry. Just… it was perfection.
Once Upon a Maiden Lane is available today! If you’ve been following this series, if you’ve grown a soft spot in your heart for Mary Whitsun like I have, well, this novella is a MUST-BUY.
ONCE UPON A MAIDEN LANE by Elizabeth Hoyt (November 14, 2017; Forever Yours Ebook; $1.99; The Maiden Lane Series #12.5)
A stand-alone novella from New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Hoyt!
Miss Mary Whitsun is far too intelligent to fall for the rakish charms of a handsome aristocrat. But when the gentleman in question approaches her in a bookshop, mistaking her for his fiancée, Lady Johanna Albright, the flirtatious encounter only raises more questions. Could Mary, a servant raised in a St Giles orphanage, actually be Lady Joanna’s long-lost twin sister? If so, Mary has been betrothed since birth—to the rakishly handsome artistocrat himself . . .
Henry Collins, Viscount Blackwell, is far too intrigued by Mary to let her go so easily. He’s drawn to her sharp mind, indomitable spirit, and the fiery way in which she dismisses him—ladies simply don’t dismiss Lord Blackwell. But as Mary makes her first hesitant steps into society, she can’t help but wonder if she truly has a place in Henry’s world—or in his heart.
Elizabeth Hoyt is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventeen lush historical romances including the Maiden Lane series. Publishers Weekly has called her writing “mesmerizing.” She also pens deliciously fun contemporary romances under the name Julia Harper. Elizabeth lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with three untrained dogs, a garden in constant need of weeding, and the long-suffering Mr. Hoyt.
Tagged: Elizabeth Hoyt