Schooling the Viscount
By Maggie Robinson
Cotswold Confidential - Book 1
Publisher: Kensington/Lyrical Press
Release Date:January 31, 2017
Captain Lord Henry Challoner, the titular viscount, returned from the First Boer War physically and psychically wounded. Doctors did what they could for his physical wounds and left him to find the cure for the wounds to his psyche. He tested the curative powers of alcohol, the occasional pipe of opium, and willing women until his father, the Marquess of Harland, alarmed by the decadent lifestyle of his heir, removed Henry from the temptations of London life and transported him to the controlled environment of Puddling-on-the-Wold.
More than seventy years earlier, the small village in the Cotswolds, faced with depressed crop prices and diminished sheep trade, had reinvented itself as the perfect spot for the recovery and rehabilitation of aristocrats whose families were troubled by the excesses and eccentricities of family members. Puddling-on-the-Wold hosted one guest at a time for a minimum of twenty-eight days during which the citizens catered to the particular requirements of that guest. In Henry’s case, adjustments include pubs that serve only non-alcoholic beverages and an apparent absence of nubile women. The plan for Henry also includes healthy food, regular meetings with the vicar, and daily walks on a prescribed route.
Bored to the superlative degree two weeks into his stay, Henry deliberately wanders off the designated path and happens upon the primary schoolmistress, Rachell Everett. He literally falls at her feet, and she falls in his lap. All plump curves and sweet smells, Rachel is a delight to Henry. His instant reaction to her reassures him that the nagging concern that his war experience has decreased his libidinal urges need concern him no longer.
As for Rachel, she finds the blond lord irresistible, but resist him she must. The economic prosperity of the whole village depends up the success of Henry’s rehabilitation, which definitely does not include kissing the schoolmistress. Rachel is also aware of the social gulf between her, a simple country woman who has never left her small village where she teaches and takes care of her widowed father, and the wealthy, sophisticated heir to a marquess. Henry is determined to see more of her, but the entire population of the village has a vested interest in keeping them apart. The path of true love started with a misstep, and it continues to be an obstacle-strewn road for the marquess’s son and the schoolmarm.
Maggie Robinson is at her best in this light-hearted tale that offers a quirky twist on small-town romance in a Victorian setting. Henry and Rachel are endearing, not least because of their flaws. The secondary characters are also engagingly drawn—from Rachel’s students to the surprisingly complex Vicar Vincent to the two fathers who are both concerned with the happiness of their offspring. Readers be warned: Rachel’s father is a scene stealer, and he will steal your hearts as well. The secondary romance adds to the book’s appeal without distracting the reader from the leads.
Although the novel is filled with humor, it is not mere froth. It is rooted in the darker realities of the effects of war and economic downturns. The comedy, much of it physical, is matched by the emotional power of passionate attachment and parent-child dynamics. Schooling the Viscount introduces Robinson’s Cotswold Confidential series, and I think it is a winner. I’m sold on the premise and eager to read Seducing Mr. Sykes, the second book in the series, scheduled for release on June 20, 2017. I give Schooling the Viscount a hearty recommendation. If you like romance rich in humor and undergirded with some substance, I think you will love this one. I did!