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Welcome to my attempt at blogging. I am a true to heart bibliophile. Here I will discuss and review books as I read them. You are welcome to do the same. The only rules are no profanity, no politics, no religion, and have fun!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

RAVENSDALE by Lucinda Elliot.....a comedy spoof of historical regency novels


Publication Date: April 18, 2014
Formats: eBook, Paperback; 260p

Genre: Historical Regency/Comedy-Spoof

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When the group of highwaymen headed by the disgraced Earl of Little Dean, Reynaud Ravensdale hold up the hoydenish Isabella Murray’s coach, she knocks one of them down and lectures them all on following Robin Hood’s example.

The rascally Reynaud Ravensdale – otherwise known as the dashing highwayman Mr Fox – is fascinated by her spirit.

He escaped abroad three years back following his supposedly shooting a friend dead after a quarrel. Rumour has it that his far more respectable cousin was involved. Now, having come back during his father’s last illness, the young Earl is seeking to clear his name.

Isabella’s ambitious parents are eager to marry her off to Reynaud Ravensdale’s cousin, the next in line to his title. The totally unromantic Isabella is even ready to elope with her outlaw admirer to escape this fate – on condition that he teaches her how to be a highwaywoman herself.

This hilarious spoof uses vivid characters and lively comedy to bring new life to a theme traditionally favoured by historical novelists – that of the wild young Earl, who, falsely accused of murder by the machinations of a conniving cousin and prejudged by his reputation, lives as an outlaw whilst seeking to clear his name.

‘Ravensdale’ is a fast paced, funny and romantic read from the writer of ‘That Scoundrel Émile Dubois’, following the adventures of his equally roguish cousin and set in 1792, just prior to the French Revolution, two years before 'That Scoundrel Émile Dubois'.

Praise for Ravensdale

“This was a good book. Well written and funny. As far as historical romances go, this one is quite a page turner. She turned a historical romance into something fun and different with comedy added in.” - Brenny’s Book Obsession (Amazon.com)

“I liked how Elliot poked fun at the clichés of historical romances. The chapter titles made me laugh. They were these little parody’s which gave just enough lightness to the story without turning it into a joke.” - Lauryn April (Amazon.com)

“And despite all the satire there is still an enjoyable story taking place in this book. Elliot does a fine job of allowing the reader to not only laugh at some of the absurdities in this tale but also root for the players to find their happy ending. There is plenty of emotion and heart in this book as both Isabella and Reynaud are characters of admirable quality and depth. ..I applaud Elliot for making the poetic regency romances we hold dear to our heart into something fun and different. She never insults or tarnishes what we love about the genre but allows it to blossom with comedy making it something I particularly loved even more.” - JC @ All is Read (Amazon.com)

“This was a cleverly written story, similar to a tongue in cheek Jane Austen classic.” - Gidgeemamma (Amazon.com)

“Ravensdale achieves everything it sets out to do, playing with formulas and stereotypes of older romance novels with abandon.The writer manages to pay tribute to the genre while having fun at the same time. In one paragraph, the sturdy no-nonsense heroine muses on the cliches of the plot she finds herself in, capitalizing all the character types such as the Wild Young Buck, the Villain of the Piece, and the Sweet Young Maiden. You can see her eyes rolling as she teases. But then the novel transforms, as the stereotypes become real people under the clever typing fingers of Lucinda Elliot.” - Jo (Amazon.com)

“If you enjoy Georgette Heyer-style period romances, you’ll probably enjoy "Ravensdale". However – and this is what is so clever about this novel – if you don’t, then there’s a good chance that you’ll enjoy "Ravensdale" anyway. It provides you with both characters that you can genuinely like and care about, an interesting story, and a parody that is at times hilarious.” - Mari Biella (Amazon.com)

“I didn’t want it to end. Ravensdale is a thoroughly enjoyable read.” - Anne Carlisle PhD (Amazon.com)

“I was so engrossed that I couldn’t stop reading and ended up with a terrible headache, but it was worth it. What an amazing bunch of characters! First of all, there’s Lord Reynaud Ravensdale, the Disgraced Outlaw and Earl: this is a character to really fall in love with. He’s intelligent, quick, wild, impetuous, an amazing shot, and absolutely bursting with honor. ..Isabella is an amazing kick ass woman, and a true, perfect match for the larger than life Ravensdale.” - Ral in the West (Amazon.com)

Character Interview with Reynaud Ravensdale.

Watch the Book Trailer

Buy the Book

Amazon US
Amazon UK

About the Author

Lucinda Elliot loves writing Gothic style stories, which isn't surprising because she was brought up in a series of big old isolated houses which her parents were refurbishing (it wasn't so fashionable back then). After that, she lived, studied and worked in London for many years and now lives in Mid Wales with her family.

She loves writing about strong women to complement gung ho males.

Her interests do include weight training and body shaping,and she was once a champion Sports fighter, but apart from that her interests are quite geeky. Reading classic novels, conservation, gardening, and even names and their meanings (bring on the carrot juice). She loves a laugh above anything.

For more information please visit Lucinda's website. You can also connect with her on Goodreads.

Ravensdale Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, September 22
Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, September 23
Interview at Layered Pages

Wednesday, September 24
Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Thursday, September 25
Review at "Good Friends, Good Books and a Sleepy Conscience: This is the Ideal Life."
Spotlight at Historical Tapestry

Saturday, September 27
Spotlight at Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers

Sunday, September 28
Review at Carole's Ramblings

Monday, September 29
Interview & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, September 30
Review at WTF Are You Reading?
Review at Devilishly Delicious Book Blog

Thursday, October 2
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight at Just One More Chapter

Friday, October 3
Spotlight at SOS Aloha

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my thoughts:

Sorry to say, I couldn't finish this book.  Barely made it through the second chapter before I  put it away.  Perhaps I'll try again, but at this point, it's just not my cup of tea.

Just for you to decide for yourself, I am including an excerpt

Chapter One
May 1792
Introducing the Disgraced Heir to an Earldom
Turned Outlaw
And the (Must Have) Conniving Cousin

When the muffled figure on horseback came up the field outside the churchyard wall and suddenly whipped off his hat, a murmur ran through the mourners: ‘It’s Reynaud Ravensdale.’ The more outspoken said, ‘It’s the Outlaw.’ An aged Colonel’s voice came loud in the sudden hush, ‘That’s the villain who shot the Captain!” The Vicar went on with the burial service.
The younger men stirred. The younger women fluttered and looked at the rider with the sympathy they had been turning on his cousin, Edmund Ravensdale, who stood in silence at the head of the late Earl’s grave. He glanced over once as the whispers started up, and then kept his eyes fixed on the Vicar.
The outlaw, who was swathed in a greatcoat with the collars turned up, had a classically handsome head and face like his cousin’s and wavy mid coloured hair. Whether he had taken off his hat out of bravado or as a gesture of respect for his father, he kept it off, ignoring the stares of the crowd.
The youngest Murray girl squealed. Isabella Murray and her brother eyed the horse. Sir Wilfred said, “Foolish gesture, if it is.” Lady Murray clicked her tongue as he went on, “Everyone said a couple of years since he would succeed in clearing himself. I had a bet at the club with that fellow in sugar five to one against. Well, it’s an ill wind as far as that cousin’s concerned. A fine fellow, this nephew of the late Earl. D’you think even our Isabella would turn up her nose at Edmund Ravensdale, eh?”
Lady Murray said nothing. She was annoyed at his lack of decorum and his making light of her secret plans. Isabella’s turning down her earlier suitors was a relief since they had come into riches. Now, with Sir Wilfred knighted, many things were possible.
The churchyard was crowded. Most of the late Earl’s tenants had come and all sorts of people from far away. Already, the dead man’s outrages were forgotten. Last week, he had been a bitter, drunken, aging roué, the terror of the neighbourhood. Now he had been a Noble of the Old School, even if he had chased the villagers with his riding crop. His nephew was said to be in favour of the enclosures* ruinous to so many of the tenants. Suddenly the old ways of the late Earl seemed better, for all his drunken rampages and lechery with the local girls.
As the Vicar finished his prayer, another rider came at breakneck speed up the steep hill, waving his hat and shouting wildly. The first man crammed back on his own hat, whipped out a pistol, turned his horse and galloped away, clearing the newly planted hedge. Mounted soldiers appeared: a volley of gunfire, shouts and curses broke out.
“They’re after him,” Sir Wilfred said unnecessarily.
There were cries and shrieks from the crowd. One man fell flat on his face and a woman swooned. Lady Murray squealed, but Sir Wilfred said, “Bear up, Ma’am; we shan’t be hit,” and so she covered her youngest daughter’s ears. Isabella listened avidly to the cursing. She was always eager to learn more words women weren’t supposed to know.
A distant whistle sounded, followed by more gunfire and cries from the crowd. A stout dowager collapsed on a tombstone. Then the sounds of the pursuit died away into the distance.
“I do hope he got away!” Lady Murray’s younger daughter Selina fought free of her hands. “How awful for him to be fired on when he had come to mourn his father’s passing!”
“More awful for him to miss out on enjoying the estate,” said her brother, Dicky. “He’s got a good horse for escape, though. What’d you say, Sir? I’d say that was an Arab cross.” He narrowed his eyes, as if to pierce the copse at the bottom of the field blocking their view of the chase.
“I’m not sure, because of the height,” Isabella patted her sister’s hand. “Never fear, dear, the average soldier’s a dismal shot and he had a fine mount. If he had your pony there might be some excuse for his being caught.”
Rumour had it that the disgraced heir was also chief of a group of Gentleman of the Road who had been robbing highway travellers for some time past, sometimes about the shires, sometimes as far away as the Great Western Road leading out of London.
He had a reputation for dash and gallantry to the ladies. He also seemed to hate legal figures. As with so many highwaymen, stories went round about his liking for the odd prank on lawyers. He was said to have robbed a judge, sending him on his way, legs tied and sitting backwards on a donkey. There was also a story that he had run into a local Assize Judge in a house of ill repute.
His second in command was also said to be dashing and gallant, though not an aristocrat. It was also said that a third member of the band lacked both dash and teeth, but then women never saw him as being the one to hand them down, half-fainting from their carriage.
The Murrays youngest daughter insisted that the disgraced heir must have been misjudged.
When they had first heard the story, back in the old house in town, long before Sir Wilfred had been knighted, Isabella had snorted with laughter.
“For goodness sake, how real life does follow the clichés of romance! The Wild Young Buck and Heir, the Sweet Young Maiden, the Ill Considered Duel, the Fatal Shot; the Wild Young Buck, Judged by his Former Wildness, now Turns Outlaw. We have already a Conniving Relative who Stands to Gain by the rightful heir’s disgrace, and surely a Conniving Cousin is near as good as a Wicked Uncle or a Jealous Step-Brother for the Villain of the Piece. We only need The Exposure of the Wicked Plot in the final chapter, the Reinstatement of the True Heir, Chastened (though still Mischievous enough to stir the ladies’ pulses); then comes his Wedding and Happy Ever After with the Sweet Young Maiden who Always Believed Him Misjudged. There! We have the novel in full.”
Selina was outraged: “That’s so unfeeling, Isa! These are real people, and maybe there truly is a wicked, conniving relative…Don’t they say that this cousin was involved in the quarrel, along with his fiancée they fought over?”
Her brother had laughed. “If Ravensdale does have his name cleared – which I doubt – he can’t marry the Sweet Young Maiden, as she hitched up soon after with the son of a wealthy sugar merchant. He’ll have to find another who believes in him somewhere else. Maybe that won’t be so hard, as you ladies do love a figure of romance, even one who has been accused of prematurely shooting the man he was to duel with.”
Selina looked disapproving. “That was unfeeling of the fiancée.”
He grinned. “I agree Ravensdale’s actions make no sense. If he’d stuck to the rules, the chances are he’d have been acquitted or got off with the lightest punishment*. He was in a rage by all accounts, though, this Captain having insulted his lady love in some way. I think I heard, too, that the duel wasn’t being done according to form; there were no seconds and therefore, no witnesses save the young lady. She was reportedly too confused to know what happened, save that Reynaud Ravensdale’s gun went off accidentally, and the Captain dropped where he stood. There was one of their tenants, too, who had just fired on a rabid fox up in the next field.”
His younger sister clapped her hands: “Then why couldn’t he have done it by accident?”
“Supposedly he was too far off. He said he was in such fear of the fox that he gave no thought to the other gunfire until he saw the Captain lying dying, this fiancée swooning and Ravensdale running up to him.”
“Now it is clear to me that something Deep and Dark took place.” Selina had nodded, but refused to go into details.
Now, Lady Murray frowned at them. “For heavens sake, try and show some decorum.”
Dicky said, “Well, Ma’am, that gun battle has near destroyed fitting solemnity, with the Vicar having to help that stout matron to smelling salts. The old sinner never went to church more than he could help, anyway. The whole family’s known for snoring through the sermons, so he’d have enjoyed it. I wonder what there will be to eat?”
Refreshments were served in the Great Hall, where stags’ heads gazed down on them reproachfully. Isabella thought that if she had to dine under their gaze every day, she would soon lose her appetite. Edmund Ravensdale was absent. It was said that he was dealing with Pressing Matters and a Visit from Officials. Isabella supposed this was to do with his cousin’s gun battle with the Redcoats.
Lady Wilfred’s voice echoed loud in the buzz of talk, making comparisons with their own dining hall. “I think all this old dark wood is dismal. Why, I told our own butler that I cannot abide it, and to have it altered must be one of our first priorities at Wisteria Hall. That and refurbishing the ballroom.” She looked at the shop people opposite to see if they were impressed, but they chewed on cold meats in a dream.
She tried again: “There is so that much needs setting to rights in such a great house I am sure I am at a loss how I shall cope.”
The woman leaned across to her: “The ham is far too salty.”
This disappointment was made up for her by their coming on Edmund Ravendale in the passage as they left. Though still looking preoccupied, he shook hands with Sir Wilfred and Dicky, and after the ladies had made their curtseys, kissed their hands and smiled on young Selina.
Lady Wilfred shrieked with laughter, as always when anyone kissed her hand. Edmund Ravensdale hardly flinched: “Sir Wilfred, I believe? I regret to have missed you. I was detained – you leave already?”
“Yes, Sir, I hope you will allow us to return your hospitality when you are out of mourning.”
Isabella cut in quickly, “Do accept our condolences on your loss, Sir.”
He glanced at her keenly. Perhaps he was startled at her directness in speech; people tended to be.
He was very good looking, as she, like all the other women, had noted in the churchyard. He was tall and spare, with startlingly regular features, an elegant Grecian nose, and bright light brown hair. His light brown or hazel eyes, unusually long, wide set and heavy lidded, were striking. Isabella decided that she didn’t like the look in those eyes. She couldn’t say why. Perhaps it was calculating, but she thought there was another, underlying emotion, too. She would have to watch herself; she was picking up Selina’s ideas.
Sir Wilfred gave him a vague invitation, which Lady Murray followed up loudly until they had to give place to another family.

Enter the Disgraced Earl Turned Outlaw’s
(Must Have) Devoted Follower

“You think they’re still after us?” Longface glanced back as he and his companion made their way down the bank of a stream in the middle of a birch wood.
“How should I know, you idiot? If we’ve shaken ‘em off so damned easy, I’ll be amazed.”
They rode on some time without speaking. As the horses scrambled up a bank, the younger man suddenly grinned, shaking off his gloom. “There’s a piece of fancy shooting, they’ve winged your hat.” He reached out and snatched it off his follower’s head, his smile fading as quickly as it came. “It’s not conspicuous or anything. Idiot, you’d have shambled into an inn like that for a surety.”
“How’d it stay on my knob?” Longface stared at it.
Reynaud Ravensdale laughed heartlessly: “I thought I saw it dance up and down. Lucky escape for you, eh?”
Longface burst out, “I call it foolishly quixotic, risking your neck like that to attend the funeral and then uncovering yourself. Paying your respects to your father was all fine and proper, but not sensible. It weren’t even as though you’d not seen him before he passed away.”
The other scowled and said nothing. Perhaps he was being Resolutely Silent.
Longface went on, “It’s no good giving me one of your haughty looks, neither. How many times have I told you, it’s all well and good to be a Viscount – well, now you’re an Earl – but it don’t do you no manner of good now, so you must set aside them aristocratic ways. I’ve told you a thousand times.”
“Try a million, Longface.”
“No, but you’ll need telling one million times more, Mr Fox*, though being discreet, I never make mention of what is known to me in front of others…Someone must have tipped off the Redcoats.”
“Obviously, seeing they don’t have the wit to find us out for themselves. Then you obligingly led ‘em to me.”
At this, Longface couldn’t contain himself. He spluttered: “Me?! Nobody followed me – and me risking my neck to warn you of the ambush you wandered into unawares!”
Reynaud Ravensdale or Mr Fox stared at him, eyebrows raised. “You idiot. I told you not to tag along. On the matter of your idiocy, by the by, how much d’you have in your purse*?”
Longface searched though his pockets. His long jaw extended.
Reynaud Ravensdale suddenly hissed, “Quiet! What’s that?” They paused, staring back, and went on listening for another minute.
“I only hear woodpeckers going at it.”
They started their horses forward again. Longface searched his clothing a last time before admitting, “The confounded thing’s gone.”
Reynaud Ravensdale made a coarse joke. “Jack and I had better sense than to lose our money so. None of those wenches in that den were to be trusted from any point of view. Twice over I caught the floozy perching on my own knee with her hands in my pockets and she laughed in my face outright.”
Longface looked yet more mournful. “I’ll have to Wait and See, then. Lucky we’re headed towards town and medical advice.”
As his companion snorted in contempt, Longface went on, “Pshaw! It’s nothing that a spot of mercury* won’t cure. What’s the point of guarding our health? We’ll be swinging at Tyburn before we’re thirty.”
“I always forget you’re short of thirty.”
Longface winced. “It’s these teeth missing ages me.”
The other didn’t bother replying. They rode on in silence for some minutes, and then he began almost gently, “What you say minds me, Longface; for your sake we should go our separate ways. I’m a careless rogue, for sure; best save your skin and leave villainy while you can. You have those papers. You can start again and lead a decent life.”
Longface shook his head. “No, not until at least after the next great takings. I’ve not enough put by to live comfortable and marry a self-respecting woman.”
Reynaud Ravensdale made another coarse joke about an unexpected wedding present Longface might give a bride if he didn’t take more care. As Longface flinched again, he added more suavely, “Longface, I’m urging you strongly to look out for yourself.”
“No, I ain’t leaving you. I’m older and wiser than you and them others, and I can make Due Allowance for your Youthful Impetuosity.” He liked the sound of that, and repeated it.
His companion was unmoved: “Listen, you simpleton, as your chief I’m telling you to go away now.”
The other shook his head, smiling gently. “Not until the time is right.”
Ravensdale scowled. His horse, picking up his mood, turned round and tried to snap at him. He hit it, cursing.
Longface murmured up at the trees, “I don’t take it amiss; he ain’t bad hearted; just a wild young buck what is put out how things is turned out.” He examined the bullet holes in his hat. Suddenly he asked his Chief Brigand, “Do you have a sister?”
The other glared, outraged: “What is that to you, looby?”
“I dunno. I miss mine, sometimes.” Longface thought of Meggie’s sorrow that he hadn’t stayed in the haberdashery, her warnings against a life of crime. Then he spent longer thinking of the hot cakes that she always made.
Suddenly, Reynaud Ravensdale spoke, as if he couldn’t stop himself, though despising himself even as he did: “I’ve a girl cousin who was as a sister to me.”
As the trees began to thin, Ravensdale or Mr Fox turned on Longface: “Take that damned thing off before we get back to civilization.” He gave a Bitter Laugh: “Civilization? That is one place where we shan’t call in.”

September 1781
With the Conniving Cousin

Edmund Ravensdale – aged twelve, still unable to credit that his father is dead, that he is the head of his family now – stands gazing on the incredibly grand front entrance of Stoke Court. Seven year old Marie clutches his hand tightly, but though she has lost her parents so much younger than he, she looks about with shy curiosity rather than dread. She can’t imagine a world in which she isn’t loved; she has no idea of the sort of household they are entering.
It is early autumn; the glow of the setting sun lights up the countless higher windows of the front of Stoke Court. None of The Family have troubled to come out to meet the new additions to it. Only a gaggle of servants are at the door to greet them: the butler, the housekeeper Mistress Stone – whose face lives up to her name – footmen, maids, and the Viscount’s former nurse, now to be Marie’s.
This is their new home. Edmund wonders how it is possible to think of such a place, with those giant colonnades along the front, as ‘home’. The old nurse waddles up to take Miss Marie’s hand from him. At this some of her misplaced confidence crumbles and she looks unsure. Edmund promises that he will visit her in the nursery later.
A footman with astounding calves carries Edmund’s luggage up to a huge room. For all his own great size, the man must remember being a boy himself, for he tells Edmund by way of comfort that the bell will go soon enough for tea. Edmund hopes that the man hasn’t seen the shaming tears that blur his eyes. He walks over to the window, pretending to admire the view.
Landscaped gardens with formal walks, vistas and follies stretch away to a distant lake in the massive park, while out of the autumn mist rise the chalk hills of Buckinghamshire. Then, through the blur, Edmund sees a maze not far from his window. It is large, promising fun for himself and Marie.
Recently, he read the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, so when he hears a crashing and roaring, for a second he almost connects it with the labyrinth and an enraged beast.
The footman laughs; it’s not a happy laugh; none of the laughter at Stoke Court tends to be happy. “Them Young Rascals is For It Again.”
The man goes through the doorway and gazes down the wide staircase into the great hall. Edmund peeps round him. Two boys of about his own age hurl themselves across the hall and through a doorway to the side as if a man eating bull was truly after them. For sure, the enraged human figure close on their heels, face twisted with rage, waving a riding crop and roaring out oaths, is nearly as bad.
He bawls to someone unseen, “Hold ‘em, damn you!” and flings himself through the door after the boys. Sounds of furious thrashing float up the stairs along with more swearing. The man below can only be His Lordship the Earl of Little Dean. Edmund notes there are no cries for mercy or of pain.
The footman meets Edmund’s eyes, nodding approvingly. “Game couple of youngsters. Take care you don’t annoy His Lordship, or you’ll be for a dose of the same.” He leaves. The dusk comes on. Edmund goes down to tea.
He takes this in some lesser but still huge dining room with some minor family members and the higher grades of dependant who always come with a great household. One is a man who looks as if a giant spider had sucked out all his juices, though he can’t be out of his thirties. A woman reminds him of a greedy parrot as she dips her cake into her dish of tea.
They take little notice of him. Though formally introduced, Edmund is too dismayed by the brutality he has just seen to take much in about them. His own parents were kind. They almost never had him whipped, let alone making him see a hanging or a swaying gibbeted* corpse by way of a warning.
Later, he goes to try and jolly along Marie. She is settling in fairly happily. The old nurse is pleased to have a little girl after a succession of boys. Edmund has this comfort, anyway.
The Earl’s son and nephew are missing for the rest of the day. Edmund is later to hear that they were locked in an isolated room, but escaped through the window and out over the leads of the roofs to get up to further mischief in the village. Perhaps they did this as a matter of principle, as they must be stiffening from their thrashing.
Meanwhile Lord Little Dean sleeps off his drunken fury. He awakes no angrier than he has normally been for the last eleven years with a world that deprived him of his young wife within a year of marriage, leaving him with his new born son Reynaud.
Since her death he has damned heaven and earth, forgotten her trust in their future reunion, and worked tirelessly to destroy himself. His furies are the terror of the neighbourhood. He lays his riding crop across the shoulders of any commoner who annoys him, and that is easy. If provoked by a gentleman, he challenges him to a duel, and then shoots into the air with a blasphemy. Then he stands, arms folded, awaiting his fate. Nobody has dared to shoot him so far. Someone may yet.
The next morning, as Edmund readies himself for breakfast, his cousin the Viscount and his Dubois relative swagger in, hiding their stiffness.
“So, you are come to join us, Cousin. You can shoot and ride, of course?” Reynaud Ravensdale is so like Edmund that he could almost be a twin, yet nature has added the finishing touches left out in Edmund.
The young heir’s features are as finely cut as if done by a master sculptor, yet even at eleven, there is no effeminacy in that face; his hazel eyes are still more long cut and heavy lidded than Edmund’s own, with heavy black eyelashes; his waving hair is a gleaming pure chestnut rather than bright brown like Edmund’s own; his sweeping dark brows are raised in haughty enquiry. Thrashings or not, the Viscount knows his status.
In contrast, lanky, fair haired, slant eyed, freckle nosed Émile Dubois is all good humour as he smiles on Edmund. “Le Diable, but he’s the spit of you, Reynaud; this could prove useful.”
Reynaud laughs: “Damn me, and he is, too.” Edmund is dismayed by their casual swearing; still, what with the sample he heard from Lord Little Dean yesterday, he can’t be surprised. Lord Ravensdale goes on, “You’ve a sister, too?”
“Marie is in the nursery.”
Émile says, “We’ve just time to pay Mademoiselle a visit before going down to le petit dejuner.” Reynaud Ravensdale’s brows shoot up, but Edmund is to learn that Émile dotes on his own small sister; perhaps he misses her. He is to find out, too, that Reynaud is strongly influenced by Émile, despite this cousin being the younger by over a year. Now the arrogant Lord Ravensdale agrees at once. “Come, then.” He hides his grimace as he turns about.
Marie, honoured at this visit from such great boys, greets them with a solemn curtsey. Her delight in them pleases them in turn, and she is soon adored by both, for which Edmund is thankful. Her belief in a world where everyone loves her remains intact. In fact, Marie is the one softening influence on the benighted household, with even the terrible Lord Little Dean indulgent towards her.

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