7b Table Of Content
7 Mayfair Square, London, 1822
Ghost in a post.
I ask you, is that any way to address a man of my distinction, a man who would welcome death—again—rather than face the latest developments in the house I built for my family? That is, my family throughout the generations to follow me, not, I repeat, not for lodgers!
And to turn the knife in the wound of my misery, that knave, Shakespeare, has dubbed me "Ghost in a Post" on account of my dwelling place in an exquisitely carved newel post at the foot of the staircase at Number 7. He is not enjoying quite the popularity he achieved in his former state, and mortification—I am also known for my dazzling wordplay—makes his tongue vicious.
But I am remiss. The late Sir Septimus Spivey at your service. Knighted in 1712 for my architectural achievements; unparalleled in my vision, skill, innovation, and all-around brilliance. Number 7 was and is my most prized accomplishment, and the present owner, that wretched great-granddaughter of mine, Lady Hester Bingham, takes in paying guests? Protégés, she calls them. Poppycock, I say to that.
A less compassionate fellow would have tossed aside all regard for the feelings of these wretched interlopers. Not so Sir Septimus. Oh, no, no. From the instant my ghostly skills allowed it, I set about removing the strangers in a most kindly manner. There wasn't a single married tenant, so I decided to marry them off. Guide them—with a trace of in-elegant but necessary haste—into connubial bliss.Elsewhere.There, I am a benevolent spirit if ever there was one.
But am I given credit for my efforts, for my accomplishments? Never. Two former residents, the former Miss Finch More and the former Miss Meg Smiles, are well-wed, well-fixed, and annoyingly—no, I mean gratifyingly happy. All I asked was that Latimer More depart with his sister, who has become Viscountess Kilrood, and that Sibyl Smiles become a member of her sister Meg's, now Countess Etranger's, household.
Each of those nincompoops, Latimer More and Sibyl Smiles, chose to continue living in their respective rooms, meaning of course, that I have not succeeded in emptying a single flat!
That state of affairs is about to change. After the last debacle I needed a good rest. Now I am refreshed and I have selected Miss Sibyl Smiles as my next victim—I mean as the next beneficiary of my valuable attention, of course. I have already been hard at work for some time and had thought that at last I had a simple task ahead.
Females. I should have known that even so placid an example as Sibyl Smiles could become difficult. Her sister, Meg, is a headstrong creature, a daring and unpredictable specimen if ever I saw one. Sibyl is the pale shadow, or I should say that she used to be the pale shadow. I cannot imagine what has come over her, unless it is jealousy of her sister, and a determination to prove that she, Sibyl, is capable of equally flamboyant and unsuitable behavior. Oh, I am almost certain she trembles within. I have seen how she gathers courage to embark on each outrageous step she plans, but embark; she does. And what if she accomplishes her aim to achieve independence of the most extraordinary kind? Well, then, I shall not only be foiled again, but doubly foiled again.
You see, my plan is that at last that cold fish, Hunter Lloyd, Hester's nephew and another unwanted wanted occupant at Number 7, will decide that a man in his position—barrister, y'know, and about to be knighted, although I cannot imagine why—must have a wife and a residence of his own. So, Hunter marries Sibyl. Sibyl marries Hunter. The result is obvious, or so I had hoped.
Drat, I see Henry VIII coming this way. Seems to be forever trying to gather all those wives together. Says he wants to make amends. Can't imagine why he doesn't accept that there are things even a king can't put back together.
Fellow talks too much. Rude, too. I must make myself scarce.
But as to Sibyl and Hunter? I mustn't dash off without telling you the serious problem I must overcome there.
I believe Hunter may have noticed Miss Sibyl. His gaze lingers, y'know. But Miss Sibyl's mind is elsewhere. She is rehearsing; making ridiculous faces in front of the mirror. Practices walking with a devil-may-care swagger. A strut. The silly chit is determined to put on a self-assured air, a worldly air, even. With her newfound friends, a group of drab, bluestocking creatures destined for the shelf, she is devising a plan to obtain what she wants most in life.
Miss Sibyl Smiles wants a child.
She does not want a husband.
I shall overcome.
7b Editorial Reviews
Publishers Weekly - In Cameron's third Regency set at 7 Mayfair Square (following All Smiles), 28-year-old Sibyl Smiles resolves to have a child without the hindrance of a husband. Her dilemma lies in finding a man who will provide the service to get her pregnant. Discarding her shyness, Sibyl propositions her friend and neighbor Hunter Lloyd. Though wrangling with Sibyl over her offer occupies most of his attention, Hunter must also investigate the kidnapping of his law partner. Sibyl's friends add spunk and laughs as they coach Sibyl on seducing Hunter, who alternates between fighting off and embracing her advances; and the "benevolent spirit" that has been guiding matters of the heart at Mayfair Square uses its influence to push the two together as well. Readers unfamiliar with the ghost may find its asides to be a jarring intrusion, and even fans of this series will note its increased prevalence here. Clearly, though, the ghost reveals enough background information from the outset to render the straggling dialogue that bulks up the first third of the book unnecessary. Although Cameron's fans will find these rambling historicals disappointing compared to her contemporary romantic thrillers, they will undoubtedly show their devotion by reading this series through to its conclusion. (Mar.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.