Pampered Margaret Macy flees London in disguise to escape pressure to marry a dishonorable man. With no money and nowhere else to go, she takes a position as a housemaid in the home of Nathaniel Upchurch, a suitor she once rejected in hopes of winning his dashing brother. Praying no one will recognize her, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. If she can last until her next birthday, she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt–and sweet independence. But can she remain hidden as a servant even when prying eyes visit Fairbourne Hall?
Observing both brothers as an “invisible” servant, Margaret learns she may have misjudged Nathaniel. Is it too late to rekindle his admiration? And when one of the family is nearly killed, Margaret alone discovers who was responsible. Should she come forward, even at the risk of her reputation and perhaps her life? And can she avoid an obvious trap meant to force her from hiding?
On her journey from well born lady to servant to uncertain future, Margaret must learn to look past appearances and find the true meaning of “serve one another in love.”
Review by Sophie
This book was a really nice read. I really enjoyed how the main character, Margaret, transformed and experienced the life of a servant. I had fun reading about the work of servants and about how Margaret disguised herself in the estate of her former suitors. With plots about incoming inheritance, masquerade parties, new love for a spinster, brotherly jealousy/rivalry, a dangerous poetic pirate, and the obstacles/observations of Margaret as a housemaid, it was very interesting.
So much fun when one by one figured out Nora aka Margaret is not truly a housemaid. Especially when Nathaniel Upchurch was figuring out something was strange with the new housemaid when he found a long blond hair reminding him of Margaret. It was a bit comical how he sorted things out with his mind.
“Sorry to startle you. Go about your work. I shall be out of your hair in a moment.” Why was he chatting away with a housemaid who clearly wanted him gone? Out of your hair? He had never uttered such an inane phrase in his life. He had hair on the brain.
Imbecile, he scolded himself. He was harebrained indeed.
At first, Magaret was rather clumsy and weak. Of course throughout the book she becomes more aware and selfless. She began to understand the difficulties of a servant and put others before herself.
I enjoyed the little moments Margaret shared with her fellow servant as they become friends.
Margaret picked up the jar, but the heat singed her hand and she quickly plunked it back on the worktable.
Hester shook her head, bemused. “Your apron, love. Your apron.”
Thomas was waiting in the drawing room when she returned, staring idly out the window. He whirled when she came in, then smiled, relieved not to be caught by a senior servant. Striding over, he gave her nose a cheeky tweak. “There’s a love.”
He took the pot from her, cursed, and bent to quickly set it down. “Dashed thing’s hot!”
She bit back a smile and returned to her own duties.
The romance between Margaret Macy and Nathaniel Upchurch was sweet but not in a cheesy way. They began to understand each other and each other’s situations. Like in the summary, Margaret misjudged Nathaniel. Of course their kiss is rewarding to read after.
She was filled with a sweet, aching longing to bridge the lingering space between them. She leaned down and their lips met in a feather touch. Sparks thrilled her every nerve. He angled his head to deepen the kiss, pressing his mouth to hers, fervently, fiercely. Her head felt light, her pulse pounded.
Misunderstandings were cleared (much to my ease). I love it when things are sorted out and answers are well answered. I thought her friendship with Emily Lathrop was a bit missing. I felt a bit sad at the end because I was not able to see the reactions of the servants when they found out who “Nora” really was. Also again with the Downton Abbey-esque thing with the servants. I really enjoyed that and even more so because there was a lot more depth in the characters likewise the situations around the servants.
Grade: In the first half of the book a 4.5 and in the second half a 5.