Friday, January 13, 2017

A World of Love - Barbara Cartland (Eaglemoss - 1986)

When her beloved brother incurs a disastrous gambling debt, lovely Carmella knows that his reckless plan offers their only hope of escaping disgrace. But does their host, the formidable Marquis of Ingleton, really believe her to be a worldly Society beauty? Or does this disturbingly handsome man suspect the terrifying shame that Carmella must risk?

Fun trip into the nostalgia of my reading past. Barbara Cartland was one of the first authors of historical romance that I read when I was a teenager, and I read a lot of her books. They were very much the same in theme: cynical, jaded nobleman meets young, innocent beauty who transforms his life. This one was no different.

Carmella is eighteen and has moved to London with her ailing mother and twenty two year old brother after their father was killed in an accident. They have little money, and what they do have is used by her brother Gerald to keep up appearances. Carmella misses the country and worries about her brother. With good reason, as he comes to her one day and confesses that he has lost money they don't have to the Marquis of Ingleton. To make matters worse, he used a family heirloom as collateral, one whose jewels are fake. Gerald comes up with the idea of stealing the necklace back at an upcoming houseparty to which he's been invited, but he needs Carmella's help to do it. He intends to pass her off as a sophisticated society beauty while the two of them find and retrieve the necklace.

In her innocence, she doesn't recognize the kind of help she is receiving, or who it is coming from. She is also surprised and disturbed by the actions of the people she meets, knowing that they are cheating on their wedding vows. She is especially nervous around the marquis, sure that he will discover her deception.

Tyrone is the typical Cartland hero. He is shown with his current mistress, who he is tiring of. He also realizes that even his upcoming houseparty won't truly relieve his boredom with his life. He feels somewhat guilty about his win against Gerald, but figures the boy wouldn't have gambled what he couldn't afford. His invitation to Gerald had been impulsive, and he now wonders if it was a mistake. But when Gerald and Carmella arrive, he is intrigued by the woman he believes is Gerald's mistress. There's something about her that is different.

It was quite sweet, the way that Carmella asked Tyrone's help in keeping Gerald from gambling with the other men, and rather surprising that he agreed. I loved seeing the two of them go riding the next morning. Tyrone was puzzled by the contradictions he saw in her, and wanted to know more. It was rather convenient timing that allowed Carmella to discover the location of the necklace, and gave her more time with Tyrone.

An unexpected complication arose when Carmella attempted to take the necklace, one that put Tyrone in her debt. It also kept Carmella and Gerald there for several extra days, during which time Carmella thought a lot about her situation. Of course, she can no longer keep her secret, and fears what will happen when she confesses. It's all wrapped up quite conveniently when Tyrone decides he's in love with her, and all is forgiven.

I enjoyed parts of the houseparty, especially when the woman, Daisy, befriends Carmella. It was fun to see how Carmella's innocence contrasted with the nasty attitude of Tyrone's mistress, and who came out on top. I got frustrated with Gerald, who pretty much left Carmella on her own while he fell victim to Sylvia's machinations.

Gerald's immaturity is obvious throughout the book, from his gambling losses to his behavior at the houseparty. Even his behavior toward the actress Yvonne shows his selfishness. I  liked how Tyrone takes him in hand at the end of the book.

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