Lady Fortescue Steps Out is the first book in The Poor Relation series by M.C. Beaton.
Quick Review (read on for full review)
Addictive, light-hearted reading with a humorous cast and funny storyline. A charming first book in a series. Will be reading more! 3.5 / 5
Summary (from back of book)
What do you do if you are of noble stock but impoverished, living in London and with a certain style to maintain?
One has to work…but one’s relatives will be appalled when one turns one’s hand to trade. This is precisely what Lady Fortescue decides upon and, together with friend Colonel Sandhurst, transforms her decrepit Bond Street home into The Poor Relation: a posh hotel offering employment to other down-and-out aristocrats, and to guests the pleasure of being waited upon by the nobility.
Thus London’s newest – and most fashionable! – hotel is born…much to the dismay of the Duke of Rowcester, Lady Fortescue’s nephew, who is convinced his aunt’s foray into trade will denigrate the illustrious family name!
“Do you mean that we should stoop to being in trade, that we should become hotel servants?” demanded Lady Fortescue.
(Lady Fortescue Steps Out by M. C. Beaton, page 30)
Lady Fortescue Steps Out is an enjoyable, quick, fun-filled regency read that sets out to answer what is a genteel lady – or gentleman – to do when their wealth starts to dry up? Not go into trade, that’s for certain…or is it?
I really enjoyed how the characters came together; the cast is fun and the setting exquisite. Regency London and period country estates are brought to life with ease. The pacing of the story was quick and the tone and writing style, entertaining and engaging.
The storyline is a tad predictable in places – irate family members from the (very) more wealthy branches of the family tree, a hopeless romance across the social divide – but this did not detract from my enjoyment of the story. After all, the main premise of the story is so unusual for regency era fiction.
Although there is humour and light-heartedness to be found in the story, the author also cleverly weaves some of the more darker aspects of life in the period into the narrative. The status – or lack of if it – of women. Living standards for the poor – and for poor relations. However, this is done in such a way as to not become too heavy or overwhelming. The historical detail was handled the same way; no longwinded passages overloaded with information, but rather, snippets nicely intertwined through the story. In such a way we get to learn about regency levels of hygiene and false teeth, amongst other things.
A delightful tale in what I hope is delightful series. It was an easy, effortless read and I am eager to read book two, Miss Tonks Turns To Crime, to see how things progress.