Following her father’s death, baron’s daughter Grace Topping has run away from her family home. Rather than face an intolerable situation, she has assumed a new name and taken a post as a governess. Her reasons for doing so are understandable but that doesn’t mean that the people who surround her will be sympathetic to her plight.
Nor will their disapproval be fleeting and easy to deal with. It’s easy for us, in the twenty first century, to forget how limited were the options available to women not very long ago. Nowadays, she’d pack her bags, load up the car, find herself somewhere to live and get a job, and no-one would bat an eyelash.
Not so in Regency England. Simply by running away and travelling through the country unchaperoned, Grace has risked putting herself beyond the pale. If Society finds out, she will never be able to show her face again. Being from an aristocratic family, she would never be expected to work and, if she was discovered doing so, the scandal would embroil not only herself, but her family and the family of her employer too. She has accepted she will never marry, as no man could be expected to saddle himself with a wife who would invite gossip and whispers wherever she went, and their children would always be tainted with the scandal, too. From their earliest school days, the children would be subject to ridicule and abuse, their acceptance unsure, their prospects nil.
The pressure on women to conform, to do what they were told and to bury their own feelings, desires and ambitions was incredible. It’s why Grace changed her name, and why discovery is disastrous for her.
Luke Fielding, on the other hand, has not broadcast his identity because he is having trouble coming to terms with it. The son of a country clergyman, clerk to a wine merchant, Luke has recently discovered that a series of mishaps in a distant branch of his family have left him, the son of a second son of a second son of a second son, as heir to an earldom. He has quickly learned that his new-found expectations cause people to treat him differently and he dislikes it. Visiting his brother, the curate in the village of Crompton Hadlow, Luke tells no-one of his status.
When he meets Grace, he is dismayed to realise that, although Luke Fielding, clerk, could have married a governess and lived happily ever after, Luke, the future earl of Barkwood, will not find that so easy. And when he does discover her true identity, he will still have to address the problems that caused her to run away in the first place.
Incognito is the second story set in Crompton Hadlow, and follows on from “The Bankrupt Viscount”, which is now available from Museitup, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, apple i-tunes, Smashwords and Omnilit.