This was an odd little book. It’s book number two in the Poor Relations series set in the Regency period, originally published under Marion Chesney, aka M.C. Beaton. I didn’t read book one, and based on this, I feel I haven’t missed much. The premise of the series is that several “poor relations” have banded together to run a hotel, which had done quite well but then there was a fire so financial straits are desperate again. They draw straws to see which one of the group has to go out and steal something valuable to pawn in order to keep things running. In this case, it’s Miss Letitia Tonks, a very timid young woman, who has to do the deed.
To accomplish this, she decides to visit her sister Honoria, who had inherited the family money but kept it for herself. Honoria also managed to snag Letitia’s fiancé for herself, clearly due to the fortune, so there’s no love lost between the sisters. When Letitia visits, she is usually put to work mending or doing other menial tasks, and put up in a tiny bedroom without any comforts. Talk about a mean older sister! But Honoria has a lot of expensive jewelry that Letitia is determined to steal – the question of the day is how to do that? What follows is a rather absurd adventure romp where Letitia decides to dress up as a highwayman to rob Honoria. Things go awry, as they do in these situations, and other people become involved in the scheme, namely Letitia’s niece Cassandra and a handsome Earl in search of a wife.
The story itself might have been okay, but the constant head hopping in the chapters was giving me whiplash. Between one paragraph to the next was a different character’s thoughts, not just one page to the next. Overall it was rather silly, and the ending was contrived and seemed just done to wrap things up, rather than leave the reader satisfied with how things turned out. I see that Ms. Chesney has published a boatload of books under her name, as well as other pen names, so obviously some people like her books. I’m just not one of them.