Captain's Lady
By Michele Rioli
Jun 1, 2007 - 9:26:00 PM

Alice Carstairs affairs of late are utterly dismal. She is a governess at the Priory, the Masterman family estate, which is the home of her cousin, Lavinia. Alice's father disgraced the family by going bankrupt so she sought employment with her cousin. Then Lavinia's husband, Sir Gregory Masterman, gambled away his fortune and committed suicide.

L avinia, devastated by her husband's death, has given birth to their baby. Mr. Scripps, Lavinia's attorney, has stopped by to inquire about the birth. When he finds out it is a girl, he rudely informs Alice that Lavinia's allowance will be cut off and she will have to leave the Priory after she is recovered from the birth of the child. Alice is stunned! She appeals to Mr. Scripps to help the family out with an advancement of money so that they may buy food. Mr. Scripps reveals that if Lavinia had given birth to a boy she would have inherited the Priory but now the Priory has passed on to Sir Gregory's brother, Captain Edward Masterman. Mr. Scripps snidely remarks that maybe Captain Edward can help but not to count on it. Alice is disheartened but still has her pride and honor.

Lavinia won't have anything to do with her baby, so Alice's heart goes out to the child, and she cradles it to her bosom. Not only does Alice assign duties to the house staff but she also cooks, cleans, and tends to Lavinia's well being. Alice is worried about how she is going to feed everyone. There are some turnips, potatoes, and cabbage left. She hopes that will hold them over until she can figure out what to do.

Captain Edward learns from the Port Admiral that his vessel, the Seabird, has been decomissioned due to wormholes in its wooden hull. He is sad from the loss of his beloved ship. The sea is his whole life. He is at a loss about what to do next. He hopes he will be reassigned somewhere else to another fine ship. When he receives word about his sudden inheritance of the Priory and the bleak situation back home, he leaves immediately. How will Edward react when he discovers how bad the situation really is?

When Captain Sir Edward arrives at the Masterman estate, he soon learns the depth of the desolate circumstances. He is overwhelmed with compassion at the sad state of the family. He delves into the financial matters and realizes the attorney was cheating the family of their money. He immediately dispatches the worthless attorney, Mr. Scripps, to Alice's great joy. Alice is very grateful for Sir Edward's concern over their welfare. He takes Alice to town and helps her purchase food, graciously paying for the items himself. The more time Alice spends with him, she finds herself falling in love with him. Sir Edward longs to return to the sea but his responsibilities to look after the estate and his family makes him question his future. Will Alice deny her growing love for Sir Edward? What will happen between Sir Edward and Alice as unexpected circumstances send them in different directions?

CAPTAIN'S LADY is a romantic story that takes place during Napoleon's escape from Elba. It is filled with action, romance, and family problems. The story is rich in historical mannerisms and details in keeping with the era. Alice is an admirable woman who has an immense consideration toward loyalty and duty. She never once thought to leave her post with the family. She is so selfless and compassionate that I was amazed by her devotion to the Masterman family in their time of need. The family members do not appreciate all she has done for them especially Lavinia, her cousin. Her growing love for Sir Edward touched my heart as she pined for him when unexpected circumstances tore them apart. Sir Edward is a gallant, handsome naval seaman who is torn between his responsibilities with the Masterman estate and family, and his love for the sea. When he leaves unexpectedly, my heart sank at the thought of Alice being alone again and having to manage the family household. I was enchanted by the little touches Milburn adds to the story that hints at the blossoming romance between the two main characters. CAPTAIN'S LADY is a touching story of old-world romance, engaging characters, and charming phrases that will satisfy lovers of historical romance.

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