A Turner Series Novella
Heat Factor: Marshmallow toasting levels
Character Chemistry: Molly is just what Alice needs
Plot: Disgraced vicar’s daughter grows spine, learns art of blackmail
Overall: Good build up, abrupt resolution
Alice is good at making herself invisible. She kept house for years for her terrible (abusive) father, until he threw her out of the house. Now she’s a companion for the wealthy Mrs. Wraxhall, and hates it. She is expected to make conversation with members of the nobility! And embroider fripperies! She just wants to disappear and be useful.
Enter Molly. Molly is a lady’s maid with a bit of a dodgy past, but she’s on the straight and narrow these days. When Alice tries to disappear, Molly sees her, and more importantly, sees her worth. Most importantly, Molly calls Alice on her bullshit:
“I beg your pardon,” Miss Stapleton drew herself up, quite affronted.
“Bugger,” Molly repeated, annunciating carefully. “Bugger not taking money for your work. You haven’t a pot to piss in.”
Miss Stapleton’s eyes widened. “This is very crass.”
“Yeah, it is.” Ordinarily, Molly observed all the dull proprieties with the gentry, but this lady needed to get her head on straight. “So is starving to death.”
The plot really starts going when Mrs. Wraxhall goes to a house party in the country, bringing her companion and lady’s maid along with her, as one does. For some reason, Molly and Alice end up bunking together, which gives them the perfect opportunity to get to know one another better. **eyebrow wiggle** No, but seriously, while there is a tiny bit of hanky panky, the forced proximity of the shared bedroom means that when Alice wants to hide, Molly is there – and uncovers Alice’s Big Secret. The two team up, and the rest is history.
Honestly, I would say that this romance is really the story of Alice coming into her own and discovering her self-worth. Molly has some angst about being left when Alice learns that she’s really from the slums, but she is already a confident and fully-realized person, so there’s not a lot of growing she needs to do; she therefore plays more of a supporting role to Alice ovarying up and telling off the terrible men who ruined her life. So while the end is immensely satisfying in terms of Alice getting some justice, the impetus for Alice and Molly to be together felt a little more cursory.
Even though this novella is slight, I would still recommend it because some of the prose is really great. Here’s Alice describing Molly’s smell:
Molly smelled like Mrs. Wraxhall’s eau de toilette – either she helped herself or some of the perfume and rubbed off her mistress’s garments – mixed with the sweet soapy smell of babies. It was such a normal scent, the sort of thing any woman might smell like. She did not know why she had expected Molly to smell like mystery and intrigue, foreign perfumes and rich musk. Instead she smelled like a person who had a job and a child and a purpose in life, not merely a vague infinity of breasts and hips and crooked grins.
TAKE THAT, every person who just says that her hair smelled like lilacs and lust.
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