Monday, August 10, 2009

Mistress of the Hunt - Amanda Scott


Lady Philippa's Pursuit

Proud and beautiful Lady Philippa Raynard-Wakefield did all she could to make one thing clear to elegant suitors seeking to capture her hand. Her brief youthful marriage to an elderly lord had left the young widow with a deep distaste for wedlock, and she would never fall into that snare again.

The Viscount Rochford got her message instantly. He did not hesitate to in turning his attention elsewhere, which should have made Philippa happy indeed.

Instead, as Philippa watched this handsome, hard-riding lord head for other quarry, this lady fleeing a pack of fortune hunters turned into a most unladylike huntress ... in as breakneck a chase as was ever run on the wild, wild fields of love...





This was another winner from Amanda Scott, who has provided me over time with many good reads. As usual the main characters are likeable (no ninny hammer or TSTL heroine, no bitter, harsh or idiot hero), the book has an authentic regency feel to it (people are addressed properly, and behave according to the manners and morals of the time) and the plot is believable and very enjoyable. What more could one ask ? Well here Ms Scott goes one step further: the book has a lot to do with fox hunting [as the title would suggest], and I have learned more about hunting from this book than from all the other books I have ever read combined. So on top of everything else, the book is also educational!

(By the way, disregard the book summary on the back page, is totally wrong and misleading. It is as if a different book is described there by mistake).

Our widowed heroine, Lady Philippa Raynard-Wakefield (and there is an explanation why she called is Lady Philippa rather than Lady Wakefield), is young, beautiful and very well endowed, courtesy of the will of her late husband. Lady Philippa is certainly aware of her desirability as a wife and is used to being chased by prospective suitors, so she goes to the country to avoid them. While she is there, she would like to hunt. After all she has done so before, with her husband’s hunt and also with the Duke of Rutland’s one.

Her stepdaughter Jessalyn gets into a scrape by leaving her Ladies seminary in Bath with a fellow pupil, Lady Lucinda Drake, without permission. This is how Lady Philippa gets to meet Lady Lucinda’s brother and guardian, Viscount Rochford, who happens to be a neighbour. Philippa quickly becomes aware of Rochford admiration of her charming self (and sizeable fortune, she assumes), and although she has no plans to remarry and generally discourages potential suitors, she is not averse into cultivating Rochford acquaintance, and even subtly flirt with him. After all he is very handsome, charming and good company, plus he might agree to allow her to join his hunt if he has taken a liking to her.

In this book we have the pleasure of making the acquaintance of Mr Assheton-Smith (his is the famous Quorn Hunt) and Lord Lonsdale (Cottesmore Hunt). I had heard of these gentlemen before, but now I got to meet them, as Lady Philippa visits each one to ask permission to join their hunt. Both refuse though, since according to Mr Assheton-Smith the right place for a woman is a sofa not a saddle, and Lonsdale firmly believes that Melton men are not fit company for a lady. So Philippa has to turn to her third and final candidate Rochford. Surely since he is quite evidently taken with her, he will not refuse to oblige her ? To her surprise and dismay though he flatly refuses to allow her to join his hunt. Here is where a battle of wills between these two starts, and it was a very enjoyable one. (Of course I was on Philippa side!)

At one point, Philippa goes as far as posting ‘no trespassing’ signs on her property, which ruins most of the hunts in the area (including Rochford’s who was the main target of this tactical manouvre). But this has the whole countryside (gentry, other hunters, the farmers as well) in uproar, and casts Philippa on the role of number one public enemy. Even when she realises she has gone too far, she can not back down since it would look as if she was giving in to Rochford’s demands, as he had stormed in her home ordering her to have the signs taken down. As if he had any right to order her, which of course he doesn’t. So Philippa stands her ground.

The clash between these two was very engaging, both entertaining to read, and also interesting to see each one’s side of the argument. Also Philippa comes to care about Rochford, but how could she contemplate marrying someone too autocratic, who will not respect her wishes and desire for independence and not allow her to take her own decisions ? So the matter of whether Philippa should hunt or not, represents a greater issue for Philippa: Rochford should learn to be less dictatorial and protective of her if she is to contemplate a future with him. Needless to say, that since this is a romance with a happy ending, Rochford does come round in the end.

All in all, a very enjoyable read. If you have not tried Amanda Scott before, this is a great book to start. It ticks all the right boxes and I can not see how anyone could be disappointed in it.

Grade 4/5

1 comments:

Ana T. August 10, 2009 at 10:18 AM  

I never read Amanda Scott and I am now very curious about her books. Thanks for the review Ioanna!

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