Lady Fortescue

Title: Lady Fortescue Steps Out (The Poor Relations #1)

Author: Marion Chesney

Reader: Davina Porter

Category: Romance- Historical

Audio Published: May 8, 2012 by AudioGo (First published 1992)

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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Purchase: Amazon

Life is not easy for the poor relations of England’s upper crust. Periodically they are dusted off and conveyed to some relative’s stately home, where they make themselves inconspicuous, hoping the regular meals will last as long as possible. But the day always comes when they are packed up and delivered back to London—and back to their life of genteel cold and hunger.

Desperate to keep up appearances, these unfortunates keep their misery to themselves, until one momentous day when Lady Fortescue meets Colonel Sandhurst in Hyde Park. Upon seeing the Colonel’s tattered yet dignified appearance, Lady Fortescue immediately realizes that he must be in straits as impoverished as her own, and she invites him to share her roof. A plan emerges: What if they were to transform her decrepit Bond Street home into a posh hotel, offering their guests the pleasure of being waited upon by nobility?

With the help of other down-and-out aristocrats, they do just that, and London’s newest hotel, The Poor Relation, is born. The establishment is an immediate hit with London’s most illustrious citizens, save the Duke of Rowcester, Lady Fortescue’s nephew. Rowcester believes that his aunt’s entry into the trade will denigrate their family name and is determined to shut the hotel down—until he meets Miss Harriett James, the lovely young woman who accepts Lady Fortescue’s offer to become The Poor Relation’s chef after the death of her parents and the loss of her fortune.

Rowcester moves into The Poor Relation for the season—ostensibly to keep an eye on his aunt’s business. Outlandish adventure and delightful romance are the result in this charming and merry debut of Marion Chesney’s Regency series.

The blurb for Lady Fortescue Steps Out by Marion Chesney gives you the set-up fairly well.  At first, the poor relations plan on having their embarrassed relatives buy them out of the hotel, solving their money problems and keeping the out of “trade,” but the hotel’s a success and Lady Fortescue and the others seem to actually enjoy the work, enjoy being self-sufficient.

Obviously Rowcester and Harriett are going to be the couple who are together in the end. It’s fun to see how they get there though, and how the poor relations deal with the small problems of running a hotel. Rowcester is a good man. Harriett is obviously not in his “class,” but, as in any good romance, that doesn’t really matter in the end. He even gets to save her from a burning building, arriving in a nick of time, before he officially proposed to her.

To be honest, the narrator must have done a good job because I can’t really remember her, the voices just fit the story. I could picture the characters, see how much they had become a family, how they cared for each other.

It’s a little formulaic. The characters are perhaps not fully developed, but it’s light and breezy and a fun listen.

The Poor Relation Series

  1. Lady Fortescue Steps Out
  2. Miss Tonks Turns to Crime
  3. Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace
  4. Sir Philip’s Folly
  5. Colonel Sandhurst to the Rescue
  6. Back in Society