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The Lady's Companion by Carla Kelly

The Lady's Companion

by Carla Kelly

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1224148,027 (4.24)9
  1. 00
    Sharpe's Tiger: The Siege of Seringapatam, 1799 by Bernard Cornwell (rsstick)
    rsstick: This is a gritty take on the army setting of a character not unlike David Wiggins.
  2. 00
    A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh (rsstick)

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This historical romance started out pretty good. I especially liked the honesty and openness of the hero who didn't hide his torturous past. But halfway in the story turned into mostly the heroines thoughts. Lady Susan's father gambled away their possessions so she went to work as a lady's companion where she met bailiff David.
( )
  Dawn772 | Jan 29, 2015 |
Another five-star read from Carla Kelly.

Susan Hampton's father, Sir Rodney, is a gambler. Indeed he's such a bad gambler that he's lost everything, including Susan's pearls inherited from her late mother. After Susan and Sir Rodney moved in with his sister, Susan realizes that her future role will be as the unpaid, unappreciated servant to her haughty aunt. Determined to control that future herself, she impulsively gets a job as a companion to the widowed Lady Bushnell and takes herself off to that lady's Cotswald estate.

She forms a close friendship with Lady Bushnell's bailiff, David Wiggins, a Welshman who had served the late General Bushnell in the Napoleonic Wars. Lady Bushnell had followed the drum with her husband through the wars, and David came to work for her after the general died at Waterloo. Susan finds herself increasingly attracted to David, but the chasm between their places in society may be too broad to be overcome. The main part of the book relates the growing trust and affection among Susan, David, and indeed Lady Bushnell.

What I Liked

Susan. Carla Kelley's heroines are never delicate flowers, and even though Susan is a gently-bred lady she has great courage, a sense of humor, and a stubborn streak.

Lady Bushnell. What a marvelous woman! She has led a life of adventure, and she's determined to maintain her independence to the end. She has no desire for a companion (there already have been several who she ran off). Susan, however, manages to make herself useful to the lady, and more important, to quickly win the confidence of the bailiff (who has a great deal of influence over Lady Bushnell).

The secondary characters. The story is enriched by Kelley's portrait of Lady Bushnell's household, as well as Susan's horrible family. And Kelley doesn't sugar coat things: the family remains horrible up to the end. And then there's the Jewish employment agent, whom first met David at Waterloo. His story is a minor piece of the plot, but it's beautifully done.

David Wiggins. He's a bastard, raised in the workhouse, a poacher, and a thief. The Army (with an assist from Lady Bushnell) was his salvation, and now he works devotedly to develop a new strain of wheat using seeds he brought back from Waterloo. Society does not consider him a gentleman, but in reality he is much more of a gentleman than Susan's father.

What I Didn't Like. I have absolutely no criticisms. The only minor thing that aggravated me was the author's habit of referring to David as "the bailiff." When this term was used in Susan's ruminations, I found it off-putting. No big deal, obviously.

My number one favorite Carla Kelly book is still [b:Reforming Lord Ragsdale|222808|Reforming Lord Ragsdale|Carla Kelly|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1326078378s/222808.jpg|215768], but The Lady's Companion is every bit as good. If you like authentic historical romances, do try Carla Kelly. ( )
  LadyWesley | Sep 25, 2013 |
The problem at the heart of this novel is more than usually interesting. Class differences versus character.

Miss Susan Hampton is the only child of a profligate gamester, Sir Rodney Hampton. During her 22 years she has lost her home, she has been subjected to countless lies and broken promises, and has had the humiliation of knowing the surname Hampton is a shameful one. As the story opens she and her father have been forced to move in with his sister, where she will quickly become an unpaid drab. Except...Susan has just enough courage and hope to put her foot out of the door to find employment.

David was a foundling brought up in a workhouse. In his youth he had lied, thieved, poached, and made his way as best he could. To escape justice he fled over the border from Wales to England and took the name of a small town, Wiggins, for his surname. David Wiggins continued his unsavory way after he took the king's shilling, until the day he was being flogged 300 lashes for stealing. His epiphany was created by the intervention of Lady Bushnell, wife of his colonel, who halted the flogging and saved his life. From that day he has been a completely changed character. His devotion to the interests of the gallant Lady Bushnell and her late family are boundless. He is a constant, dependable man with drive and ambition—he is striving to engineer a new strain of wheat that will be the beginnings of a seed business.

The compatibility of Susan and David is obvious in the way that is almost a Carla Kelly trademark. How Susan comes to grips with the problem of class as her relationship with David and Lady Bushnell unfolds is beautifully told. ( )
  rsstick | Jun 12, 2010 |
One of my favorite Carla Kelly stories. ( )
  phyllis2779 | Feb 13, 2010 |
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To Metta Lieb and Laurie Sampson, good friends and readers
First words
It takes a birthday to bring out the worst in a woman, Susan Hampton decided as she propped herself up on one elbow and watched the maid of all work ration out the morning coal.
He picked up the metronome still on the breakfast table, and set it in slow motion. 'Susan we live in a new age, and industrial age, one where a Jew can run a company without fear of windows broken, or business ruined by rumor or bigotry.' He moved the weight down and the pendulum swung faster. ' It is a modern age; consider yourself a pioneer in it, you and your bailiff. What else is there to explain?'
Joel Steinman is right, she reflected. This is an age of industry, and everything must change, except that I did not believe that the changes would have to begin with me.
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A Compromising Position

Miss Susan Hampton was a lady born and bred. She never imagined that she would have to make her own way in the world. But that was before her feckless father gamed away the family estate. That was before her odious aunt turned her into an unpaid servant. Now Susan had fled that tyranny–only to wonder if she had leapt out of the frying pan into the fire.

In a remote country manor, Susan took the post of companion to the Dowager Lady Bushnell, whose fiery temper made a dragon seem sweet. But even more dangerous was the dowager’s boldly handsome bailiff, David Wiggins, whose blood was red, not blue, and who was everything a man could be except a gentleman. Desperately, Susan told herself that he was totally unsuitable as her suitor–even as this infuriatingly irresistible man awoke her as a woman and made her forget she was a lady…

-from back cover
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