Camille had been a lady all her life, cold and aloof and as arrogant as a British aristocrat and a daughter of a wealthy earl could be. Until one day, after her father’s death, she discovers that her life has been a lie. Her late father, the earl, was never legally married to her mother. Camille and her siblings are all illegitimate and have not a cent to their names.
The story of this book is the story of Camille’s self-discovery. She is trying to figure out who she is if not a rich and powerful noble lady. She is also trying to find out how those who are not rich and powerful, those she had always considered beneath her notice, live.
I didn’t like Camille or her story very much. She remains cold and aloof even when knocked off her pedestal of money and title. She is trying – I’ll give her that – but her fumblings are halfhearted at best. And she uses those weaker and poorer than herself – the orphan children – as an instrument of her self-discovery. She doesn’t think of what will happen to the children after she leaves them behind. They are just a means to an end. Through them, she is determining how to exist without being a rich lady.
In the end of the book, she accepts money from her legitimate sister as her due. Struggling to keep food on the table is not for Camille. In fact, everyone becomes rich in the end of the book, as if the money problems should always be rewarded by inheritance or kindness of relatives. Nothing like that has ever happened to anyone I know, so I didn’t believe this happy ending for Camille either.
The romance between Camille and her young beau doesn’t play a large role in the story. It almost seems an afterthought, because the author is a romance writer, and her publisher expected at least a token romantic line.
On the whole – a very average novel. I did enjoy it... somewhat. I like Balogh’s writing style and I have read most of her prolific output, but this particular book is one of my least favorite of hers.