||July 3, 2007
Banished and disowned for saving a stranger's life, Pamela Clarkdale learns that her entire life has been a lie.
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In Regency England, lineage and vouchers to Almack’s are everything, but Pamela Clarkdale has neither. After her father casts her out, she considers herself fortunate to have obtained a position as a companion to an elderly widow.
Kitt Covington has sworn off Almack’s and marriage. Why attend one when he has no interest in the other? Guilt, however, is a powerful motivator. Knowing he caused Pamela to be thrown out of her home, he proposes a sham betrothal between them to ease his conscience.
Kitt’s offer is tempting and Pamela agrees, with the caveat that the betrothal will disappear at the end of the season. But not only is Pamela refused vouchers to Almack’s, her family is scheming to destroy her to protect a secret she doesn’t realize she knows. When the twenty-year-old web of lies and deceit begins to unravel, will Pamela and Kitt discover that Almack’s isn’t really that important after all?
Kitt’s shoulder was healing nicely by the next week, but he chafed at the inactivity as he waited for a response to his letter. Barlow, Seth, and the other stable hands were congenial, but after the first few days they left him to his own devices while they went about their duties. Pamela was a frequent visitor and he looked forward to the times she dropped in.
The stables were a hive of activity. Sir Maurice was either a connoisseur of good horseflesh, or incredibly lucky in his purchases. Barlow indicated that it was somewhere in between, that in actuality many of the horses were bought by Master Stephen. Pamela’s mount, Midas, was such.
The spirited gelding was a dark glossy brown with two white stockings. Whenever Pamela came near his stall, he stuck his head out eagerly, awaiting the apples she frequently kept in her pocket for him. Midas, however, wasn’t the only occupant of the stables Pamela bestowed her warmth and care on. Up in the hayloft there was a tabby with a litter of kittens she checked on regularly. And of course, there was Kitt.
He anticipated her visits as much as Midas did. Perhaps more.
In the past, female companionship never meant friendship. Women were for warming a man’s bed, bearing a man’s children, and running a man’s household. Except for his godmother, no woman in his life had ever seen him as anything other than a deep pocket. As long as he satisfied them in and out of bed, and their arrangements were mutually beneficial, he paid them little heed.
But Pamela broke the mold. She was friendly, caring, intelligent and generous. Her smile lit up the stables, warming the frigid air with her enthusiasm. She gave freely of her time, often sitting up late with him playing chess or cards when he knew she needed to be up early. She had apologized for keeping him in the stables, blushing furiously as she tried to explain her father’s distrust of strangers.
“I have slept in worse places. You needn’t worry that my delicate sensibilities have been overset.”
She changed the subject then, asking him again about London and the sights, which he obligingly described to her in as much detail as he could.
Her eyes lit up at his descriptions and he became warm watching her. He hadn’t touched her since the day he kissed her wrist, but he hadn’t forgotten the texture of her skin or the throb of her pulse against his mouth. He itched to take her in his arms and taste her lips, but restrained himself. After all, she was a gently bred lady—and she had saved his life. Only a thoroughly disreputable character would take advantage of her in such a manner, and he wasn’t that jaded.
Romance Reviews Today
A Perfect 10
When Pamela Clarkdale finds Christopher, the Earl of Kittridge lying wounded beside a stream near her home, she is worried that he might not survive the gunshot wound in his shoulder. With the help of Seth and Barlow, who oversee the horses, she hides Kitt in the stables so he can recover.
Pamela is careful not to give him away, but she did not count on her vindictive, spoiled, selfish sister, Sheila, telling their father that she kissed Kitt. It is then that Pamela discovers that Maurice Clarkdale is not her father, and he disowns her, telling her to get out of his house despite the fact that her mother is very ill. Kitt is well enough to travel, and Pamela tells him not to be concerned, so he leaves not knowing about this turn of events.
With no place else to go, Pamela is fortunate to be accepted as the companion of Lady Claire Parkington, who is also Kitt's Godmother, and an old friend of Pamela's mother. After meeting her again, Kitt suggests that they pretend to be engaged, and Lady Parkington decides to sponsor Pamela for a Season. But Pamela's grandparents, Earl and Countess Marscombe, are sponsoring Sheila...so Pamela says that she and her grandmother don't get along, and Lady Parkington tells everyone that she is Pamela's Godmother, too, and played matchmaker for Kitt and Pamela.
Then, Sheila makes it known that she wants Kitt for herself...and Lady Parkington and Pamela are denied vouchers to Almack's.
THE IMPORTANCE OF ALMACK'S is one of the best Regencies I have ever read. It is filled with information and splendid descriptions. Denise Patrick sets Society on its ear and leaves the reader furiously turning pages to see what happens next. Kitt is amazing, and Pamela is brave enough to wait for Kitt to love her as much as she loves him. There are plots within plots within plots and surprises around every corner, interspersed between layers of secrets. Other characters: Lord Denton Avery; Lady Louisa deWare; Lord Wyatt Crandall; Louisa's parents, and Stephen Clarkdale, Pamela's brother, all add to the mysteries and suspense surrounding Pamela and her unknown heritage. I could rave about this story for the next hour or so, but that would make the review very long. Seldom have I read a more compelling romance that did not have even one bedroom scene. So many emotions come into play, devotion, loyalty, and most of all, love. There are tragedies along the way and information that can hurt several people, but Ms. Patrick handles all the intriguing, possibly explosive situations with aplomb and veracity. THE IMPORTANCE OF ALMACK'S is a Perfect 10 that I very strongly recommend.
Reviewed by: Vi Janaway
The Road to Romance
A 5-star Story
A regency romance is incomplete without the mention of Almack’s (mixed sex public social club in London outside of the aristocracy) and it was with great eagerness that I picked up Denise Patrick’s novel The Importance of Almack's. I am glad to say I wasn’t let down despite the limited entry into the "hallow’d portals" of the greatest of marriage marts. This book would have been perfect with the subtitle "…and the importance of paternity" nonetheless it made for a very enjoyable evening’s entertainment.
Pamela Clarkdale’s rural life in Yorkshire changes beyond her wildest dreams when she comes across an injured man and takes him in. "Stabled" in Clark Hall is none other than London’s most eligible bachelor, Christopher Orion Covington—the twelfth Earl of Kittridge, known to his rescuer as just Kitt. Pamela’s family is the typical regency dysfunctional one, but with more than its share of skeletons in the cupboard; skeletons that are revealed as the book unfolds. The first secret that changes the course of Pamela’s life and uproots her is finding out that she is illegitimate, unlike the petted and pampered younger daughter Sheila. This is revealed when their "father" throws her out when Sheila witnesses the first kiss between Kitt and Pamela, and rats on her. Three months later after being thrown out of her house, Pamela and Kitt’s path cross again but this time she is a paid companion to the Earl’s godmother, Lady Parkington. The cynical earl is torn between his past prejudices, his growing admiration for his rescuer, and the guilt that he caused Pamela’s drastic change in circumstances.
What follows is a pretend engagement between the lovebirds and a Season for Pamela, as she becomes Lady Parkington’s protégé. Despite Sheila’s chagrin and the rumors she and her grandmother start in an attempt discredit Pamela and deny her entrance to Almacks, Kitt is enthralled by his fiancée, who keeps shattering his cynicism about women. Pamela also finds great friends, champions, and a substitute family in Lady Parkington’s family and Kitt’s friends—the foremost being Gerald, Viscount Tinsley; his sister Lisa; and Kitt’s best friend Lord Denton Avery, the younger son of a duke. As more and more secrets are revealed, love blossoms despite all deceptions. Pamela finds the truth of her heritage, as does Kitt when he learns his much-adored father’s dark secrets. Kitt overcomes his cynicism, which was already under the seige of his growing respect and love for Pamela. The book’s happy ending reunites separated families, heals past betrayals, and is a happily-ever-after for two couples. This five-star wrap-up for a five-star story is made tearfully sweet with a final proposal in no less a setting than Almack’s itself. A wonderful book with wonderful characters and some deeply moving scenes! I loved every line of it.
Reviewed by: Raakhee Suryaprakash
My Book Cravings
5 Flowers and a RECOMMENDED READ
When Pamela Clarksdale finds a wounded man at the stream near her family’s country home, she never imagines the changes it will bring to her life. Forced to Kitt in the stable from her disagreeable father while he heals, she finds herself drawn to him as she has no other. When her unpleasant sister spies the two kissing in the stable one evening and tells their father, Pamela finds herself thrown out of the house. Determined not to force her circumstances on the gentlemen in question, she allows him to leave unaware. Weeks later she is thankful to find a position as a lady’s companion for a London widow and shocked to find Kitt is not only her godson but he’s an Earl. Their time apart hasn’t lessened her feelings, they’ve only intensified.
Kitt, The Earl of Kittridge is thrilled when he finds the young and desirable Pamela at his godmother’s. After meeting her again, he suggests that they pretend to be engaged until the end of the season, while his godmother, Lady Parkington sponsors her. For a man who has sworn off marriage, his betrothal comes as a shock to more than a few envious mothers who have daughters husband seeking. That includes Pamela’s vain and deceitful younger sister and her grandmother. When it appears that several powerful woman of the ‘ton’ are out to ruin Pamela’s reputation with the exposure of a long held family secret, Kitt comes realize just how important this kind and caring woman is to him, and he’s willing to do just about anything to keep her safe from emotional and physical harm.
I admit it. The Importance of Almack’s caught me completely by surprise. The reason is I rarely read historical romances and never read Regencies, but I loved this jewel of a novel. Miss Patrick’s descriptions are vivid and filled with information of what life was like in that time period, without making the reading stuffy or boring. In fact, far from it. The book was is fast paced, well plotted and kept my interest from the very first chapter. It made me want to know what was happening to these characters and I found myself racing from page to page. The book is filled with all the things that make a good novel and a wonderful read…likable well rounded and developed primary and secondary characters, a great plot filled with love, intrigue, betrayal, deceit, misunderstandings and hate, and a well described setting that sucks the reader into the plot. It didn’t even matter that there wasn’t a bedroom scene in the entire book. Handholding and chaste kisses are the only showing of physical intimacy between Kit and Pamela, but with these two, it’s enough. I can’t say enough good things about his story and recommend it highly to anyone who loves a good romance. Even if you don’t usually read romances in this genre, take a chance on this one. I’m glad I did, and I hope you will too.
Reviewed by: Pam
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