"Engaging glimpse into a Regency tale of self-discovery and healing"
Reviewed by Susan Gorman
Posted September 1, 2014
Erin Knightly has set the stage for a breathtaking story
of self discovery and healing in her newest novel THE
BARON NEXT DOOR.
Hugh Danby has grudgingly traveled to Bath to relax and
take the waters. Hugh has returned from the war with
emotional and physical injuries. His brother has died and
Hugh is now Baron Cadgwith. Hugh has not faced his war
experiences and drinks too much. Our hero is prone to
migraines, is sound-sensitive and feels that he is not
capable to assume his family duties. Hugh visits Bath to
bathe in the healing waters and to regroup.
Hugh's next door neighbor, Charity Effington is a pianist
and she has journeyed to Bath with her Grandmother to
escape her parents, the London society gossip and to play
in the Summer Serenade. Much to her parent's dismay and
disappointment, Charity broke off an arranged engagement
and her former fiancé has married another woman.
A hung over Hugh wakes up to the sound of Charity playing
her pianoforte. Charity is a pianist and practices daily
prepare for her audition in the Summer Serenade. The fun
begins when the cranky Baron visits with Charity and her
Grandmother and asks Charity to "keep the infernal racket
to a minimum." Charity is insulted and plots revenge while
the Baron is clueless!! I enjoyed reading how this couple
who started out at odds with each other grew to respect
each others differences..
THE BARON NEXT DOOR is character driven novel. Each
character in the story is well developed, unique and plays
an important role in the storyline. I loved Charity's
Grandmother. Lady Effington understands Charity's desire
for a love match. She provides the right touch of
Grandmotherly concern and advice and supports her
granddaughter. Lady Effington's observations throughout
the novel were spot on. I enjoyed how the three friends
Charity, Sophie and May join forces to get a place in
music recital. Their friendship is a key piece in the
THE BARON NEXT DOOR contains many examples of lyrical
loved the scenes when Charity would sneak to the piano
at midnight and play her haunting musical compositions.
expressed her feelings through her music and these scenes
were excellent. Although there are no bedroom scenes, the
writing is very sensuous. There is passion and the reader
understands the characters feelings. The last few chapters
of THE BARON NEXT DOOR contained several surprising and
unexpected events that kept me reading past my bedtime.
Regency romance readers...this is an excellent read!
I am looking forward to the next book in the series.
Charity Effington learned two valuable lessons from her
1) When one loses the attention of an earl, one gains the
attention of every gossip in London.
2) Despite the lingering scandal, she’s not prepared to
marry for anything less than love.
After an exhausting Season, Bath’s first annual music
festival offers Charity the perfect escape. Between her
newly formed trio and her music-loving grandmother,
is free to play the pianoforte to her heart’s content.
is, until their insufferably rude, though undeniably
handsome, neighbor tells her to keep the “infernal
to a minimum.
Hugh Danby, Baron Cadgwith, may think he’s put an end to
noise, but he has no idea what he’s begun. Though the
of Bath provide relief from the suffering of his war
injuries, he finds his new neighbor bothersome, vexing,
inexplicably enchanting. Before long, Hugh
even if his body heals, it’s his heart that might end up
Bath, June 1819
Hell and damnation. Was he to have no peace at all?
Hugh Danby, the new and exceedingly reluctant Baron
Cadgwith, pressed the heels of his hands into his eye
sockets, pushing back against the fresh pounding the
godforsaken noise next door had reawakened.
"Go to Bath," his sister-in-law had said. "It's
practically deserted in the summer. Think of the peace
and quiet you'll have."
Bloody hogwash. This torture was about as far from peace
as one could get. Not that he blamed Felicity; clearly
the news of the first annual Summer Serenade in Somerset
festival hadn't made it to their tiny little corner of
England when she offered her seemingly useful suggestion.
Still, he'd love to get his hands on the person who
thought it was a good idea to organize the damn thing.
He tugged the pillow from the empty spot beside him and
crammed it over his head, trying to muffle the jaunty
pianoforte music filtering through the shared wall of his
bedchamber. The notes were high and fast, like a foal
prancing in a springtime meadow. Or, more aptly, a foal
prancing on his eardrums.
There was no hope for it. There would be no more sleep
for him now.
Tossing aside the useless pillow, he rolled to his side,
bracing himself for the wave of nausea that always
greeted him on mornings like this. Ah, there it is.
He gritted his teeth until it passed, then dragged
himself up into a sitting position and glanced about the
The curtains were closed tight, but the late-morning
sunlight still forced its way around the edges, causing a
white-hot seam that managed to burn straight through his
retinas. He squinted and looked away, focusing instead on
the dark burgundy and brown Aubusson rug on the floor.
His clothes were still scattered in a trail leading to
the bed, and several empty glasses lined his nightstand.
Ah, thank God—not all were empty.
He reached for the one still holding a good finger of
liquid and brought it to his nose. Brandy. With a
shrug, he drained the glass, squeezing his eyes against
Still the music, if one could call it that, continued.
Must the blasted pianoforte player have such a love
affair with the brain-cracking high notes? Though he'd
yet to meet the neighbors who occupied the adjoining
townhouse, he knew without question the musician was a
female. No self-respecting male would have the time,
inclination, or enthusiasm to play such musical drivel.
Setting the tumbler back down on the nightstand, he
scrubbed both hands over his face, willing the alcohol to
deaden the pounding in his brain. The notes grew louder
and faster, rising to a crescendo that could surely be
heard all the way back at this home in Cadgwith, some two
hundred miles away.
And then . . . blessed silence.
He closed his eyes and breathed out a long breath. The
hush settled over him like a balm, quieting the ache and
lowering his blood pressure. Thank God. He'd rather walk
barefoot through glass than—
The music roared back to life, pounding the nails back
into his skull with the relentlessness of waves hitting
the beach at high tide. Damn it all to hell. Grimacing,
he tossed aside the counterpane and came to his feet,
ignoring the violent protest of his head. Reaching for
his clothes, he yanked them on with enough force to rip
the seams, had they been of any lesser quality.
It was bloody well time he met his neighbors.
Freedom in D Minor.
Charity Effington grinned at the words she had scrawled
at the top of the rumpled foolscap, above the torrent of
hastily drawn notes that danced up and down the static
The title could not be more perfect.
Sighing with contentment, she set down her pencil on the
burled oak surface of her pianoforte and stretched.
Whenever she had days like this, when the music seemed to
pour from her soul like water from a upturned pitcher,
her shoulders and back inevitably paid the price.
She unfurled her fingers, reaching toward the unlit
chandelier that hung above her. The room was almost too
warm, with sunlight pouring through the sheers that
covered the wide windows facing the private gardens
behind the house, but she didn't mind. She'd much rather
be here in the stifling heat than up north with her
parents and their stifling expectations.
And Grandmama couldn't have chosen a more perfect
townhouse to rent. With soaring ceilings, airy rooms, and
generous windows lining both the front and back—not
to mention the gorgeous pianoforte she now sat
at—it was a wonderful little musical retreat.
Exactly what Charity needed after the awfulness of the
Dropping her hands to the keys once more, she closed her
eyes and purged all thoughts of that particular topic
from her mind. It was never good for creativity to focus
on stressful topics. Exhaling, she stretched her fingers
over the cool ivory keys, finding her way by touch.
Bliss. The pianoforte was perfectly tuned, the notes
floating through the air like wisps of steam curling from
the Baths. Light and airy, the music reflected the joy
filling her every pore. Here she had freedom.
Free from her mother and her relentless matchmaking. Free
from the gossip that seemed to follow her like a fog.
Free from all the strict rules every young lady must
abide by during the Season.
The notes rose higher as her right hand swept up the
scale, tapping the keys with the quickness of a flitting
hummingbird. Her left hand provided counterbalance with
low, smooth notes that anchored the song.
A sudden noise from the doorway startled her from her
trance, abruptly stopping the flow of music and engulfing
the room in an echoing silence. Jeffers, Grandmama's
ancient butler, stood in the doorway, his stooped
shoulders oddly rigid.
"I do beg your pardon, Miss Effington. Lady Effington
requests your presence in the drawing room."
Now? Just when she was truly finding her stride? But
Charity wasn't about to make the woman wait—not
after she had singlehandedly saved Charity from a summer
of tedium in Durham with her disgruntled parents. "Thank
you, Jeffers," she said, coming to her feet.
She headed down the stairs, humming the beginning of her
new creation. Her steps were in time with the music in
her mind, which had her moving light and fast on her
feet. The townhouse was medium sized, with more than
enough room for the two of them and the handful of
servants Grandmama had brought, so it took her only a
minute to reach the spacious drawing room from the music
Breezing through the doorway with a ready smile on her
face, Charity came up short when the person before her
was most definitely not her four-foot-eleven, silver-
She only just managed to contain her squeak of surprise
at the sight of the tall, lanky man standing in the
middle of the room, his dark, rumpled clothes in stark
contrast to the cheery, soft blues and golds of the
immaculate drawing room. She swallowed, working to keep
her expression passive as her mind raced to figure out
who on earth the man was.
Charity had never seen him before, of that she was
absolutely sure. It would be impossible to forget the
distinctive scars crisscrossing his left temple and
disappearing into his dark blond hair. One of the
puckered white lines cut through his eyebrow, dividing it
neatly in half before ending perilously close to one of
his vividly green—and terribly
He was watching her unflinchingly, accepting her
inspection. Or perhaps he was simply indifferent to it.
It was . . . disconcerting.
"There you are," Grandmama said, snapping Charity's
attention away from the stranger. Sitting primly at her
usual spot on the overstuffed sofa centered in the room,
her grandmother offered Charity a soft smile. "Charity,
Lord Cadgwith has kindly come over to introduce himself.
He is to be our neighbor for the summer."
Kindly? Charity couldn't help her raised eyebrow.
The man had come over without invitation or introduction,
and Grandmama had actually allowed it?
Correctly interpreting Charity's reaction, the older
woman chuckled, clasping her hands over the black fabric
of her skirts. "Yes, I realize we are not strictly
adhering to the rules, but it is summer, is it not?
Exceptions can be made, especially when the good baron
overheard your playing and so wished to meet the
musician." Her gray eyes sparkled as she smiled at their
It was all Charity could do not to gape at the woman.
Yes, no one was more proud of Charity's playing than her
grandmother, but this was beyond the pale. Good gracious,
if Mama and Papa knew how much Grandmama's formerly,
strict nature had been changed by her extended illness,
they never would have allowed Charity to accompany her to
Bath without them.
The baron bowed, the movement crisp despite his slightly
disheveled appearance. "A pleasure to make your
acquaintance, Miss Effington," he said, his voice low and
a little raspy, like the low register of a flute.
Despite the perfectly proper greeting, something about
him seemed a little untamed. Must be the scars, the
origin of which she couldn't help but wonder about. War
wounds? Carriage accident? A duel? Setting aside her
curiosity, she arranged her lips in a polite smile. "And
you as well, Lord Cadgwith. Are you here for the
"Please don't mumble my dear," Grandmama cut in, her
whispered reprimand loud and clear. Charity
cringed—the older woman insisted that her hearing
was fine, and that any problem in understanding lay in
the enunciation of those around her.
"Yes, ma'am," she responded in elevated, carefully
pronounced tones. "Lord Cadgwith, are you here for the
festival?" Heat stole up her cheeks, despite her effort
to keep the blush at bay. She had never liked standing
out—when away from her pianoforte, of
course—and practically shouting in the presence of
their neighbor was beyond awkward. One would think she'd
have come to terms with the easy blushes her ginger hair
and pale, freckled skin lent itself to, but no. Knowing
her cheeks were warming only made her blush that much
It certainly didn't help that the man was by far the most
attractive male to ever stand in her drawing room, scars
or no. She swallowed against the unexpected rush of
butterflies that flitted through her.
For his part, Lord Cadgwith did not look amused. "No,
actually. I had no knowledge of the event until my
arrival." He made the effort to speak in a way that
Grandmama would hear, his dark, deep voice carrying
easily through the room. A man used to being heard, she'd
guess. A military man, perhaps?
"Well, what a happy surprise it must have been when you
arrived," her grandmother said, smiling easily. "Charity
is planning to sign up for the Musicale series later this
afternoon. There are a limited number of slots, but I
have no doubt our Charity will earn a place."
And . . . more blushing. Charity gritted her teeth as she
smiled demurely at her grandmother. Music was the one
thing for which Charity had no need for false modesty,
but sharing her plans with the virtual stranger standing
in their drawing room felt oddly invasive. "I'm sure Lord
Cadgwith isn't interested in my playing, Grandmama."
"On the contrary," he said, his voice rough but carrying.
"It is, after all, your music that prompted me to visit
in the first place."
Her mouth fell open in a little "Oh" of surprise before
she got her wits about her and snapped it shut. Still,
pleasure, warm and fizzy, poured through her. Her music
had called this incredibly handsome man to her? Not her
looks (such as they were), not her father's station, not
curiosity from the gossip. No, he had sought her out
because her playing touched him. Pride mingled with the
pleasure, bringing an irrepressible grin to her lips.
Grandmama beamed, her shrewd gaze flitting back and forth
between them. "Well, I do hope you'll stay for tea, my
His smile was oddly sharp. "Unfortunately, I must be off.
I just wanted to introduce myself after being serenaded
this morning. Lady Effington, thank you for your
indulgence of my whim."
She nodded regally, pleasure clear in the pink tinge of
the normally papery white skin of her cheeks. He turned
to face Charity, his green eyes meeting hers levelly.
"Miss Effington," he said, lowering his voice to a much
more intimate tone as he bent his head in acknowledgment.
"Do please have a care for your captive audience in the
adjoining townhouses, and keep the infernal racket to a
Lost in the vivid dark green of his eyes, it took a
moment before his words sank in. She blinked several
times in quick succession, trying to make sense of his
gentle tone and bitingly rude words. He couldn't possibly
have just said . . . "I beg your pardon?"
"Pardon granted. Good day, Miss Effington."
And just like that, the baron turned on his heel and
strode from the room. It was then that she caught the
fleeting hint of spirits, faint but unmistakable, in his
wake. A few seconds later, the sound of the front door
opening and closing reached her burning ears. Of all
the insufferable, boorish, rude—
"My goodness, but he was a delightful young man."
Grandmama's sweet voice broke through Charity's fury,
just before she was about to explode. The older woman
looked so happy, so utterly pleased with the encounter,
that Charity forced herself to bite her tongue. It
wouldn't do to upset her—not after she was only
just now recovering from her illness. The currish baron
wasn't worth the strife it would cause.
Forcing a brittle smile to her lips, she nodded. "Mmhmm.
And you know what? I think I'll go play an
extraenthusiastic composition just for him."
With that, she marched from the room, directly back to
her pianoforte bench. The baron could have been pleasant.
He could have kindly asked her to play more quietly, or
perhaps less frequently. But, no, he had chosen to go
about it in the most uncivilized, humiliating way
possible. It was his decision to throw down the gauntlet
as though they were enemies instead of neighbors.
She plopped down on her bench with a complete lack of
elegance and paused only long enough to lace her hands
together and stretch out her muscles. Then she spread her
fingers out over the keys and smiled.
This, Lord Cadgwith, means war.
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