Late 19th century
Vaughan Springthorpe has two afflictions. The first is that she has a deformed foot, causing her to limp. The second is that she is a woman. Trained by her deceased father in the law, she is hired by Sir Peter Spencer to put the affairs of his Yorkshire Estate in order prior to its sale. Sir Peter is presently in Italy and hires her at a generous salary by letter without so much as an interview. Vaughan discovers a gloomy mansion, a taciturn manservant, a cheerful housekeeper, and a handsome gardener. She soon learns there have been others employed to do her job who lasted less than a week, and when she meets Sir Peter’s nasty, invalid brother she thinks she knows the reason why. Nicholas doesn’t want the estate sold.
The scene is set, the players assembled. Strange things start to happen, which Vaughan suspects are attempts to drive her off. But nothing is as it seems at Morton, including the characters. As the story progresses they emerge as different people.
Vaughan is a twenty-eight-year-old spinster who, because of her lameness, doesn’t believe any man can fall in love with her. Morton proves her wrong. Being loved releases the softer side of her nature, creating confusion where once there had been certainty. It is in part because of her lameness that she is tough, so she is not intimidated by Nicholas’s nastiness. Determined to finish the job she was hired for, she doesn’t allow herself to be frightened off. She is a wonderfully developed character.
This novel had no difficulty holding my interest. It has so many twists, surprises, and secrets revealed, plus a satisfying ending for two deserving characters. I loved it.
Reviewed for Discovering Diamonds
© Susan Appleyard