Adam Davenant is a successful quarry owner, who intends
shipping best Somerset stone to London via the new Avon
canal. He meets a young woman riding on quarry land; she is
of a local titled family, displeased with the noisy work.
But this is 1819 and after the long years of war against
Napoleon, taxes are high and some of the best families are
THE OUTRAGEOUS BELLE MARCHMAIN is a war widow who runs her
own dressmaker's shop in London, but her brother still
holds the family estates near Bath and sold the quarry land
for a pittance. Young Edward is not good at managing money
and Belle despairs of him. She is obliged to visit Adam's
Mayfair townhouse to ask for a stay on her family's debts.
Adam is all for progress and invites other landowners to
discuss building a railway to transport goods to the
burgeoning market in London. Though he has no sympathy for
Belle's family, her outrageously colourful clothes and
sharp wits start to capture his imagination.
The changing times are well reflected in the stories of
these characters, and the surrounding people - such as Lord
Jarvis who has made a fortune from carting and carrying,
and is convinced that the newfangled railway engines will
blow themselves to bits. Adam makes a rash bet with Jarvis
and compels Belle to agree to a temporary betrothal, though
neither of them wishes for marriage. Rather each of them
sees it as a challenge. Sadler's Wells, Astley's
Amphitheatre and Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens are the centres
of entertainment, and with everything going well the two
become more than fond of each other. But Belle discovers
the wager and is furious with Adam, not realising that she
is now in danger from the unscrupulous Jarvis.
Lucy Ashford kept me reading this interesting tale due to
the unusual, well-rounded characters, a long way from
innocent misses at their first ball, or gambling rakes.
Stonecutting provided the building material for Bath and
London's finest streets, and we can still visit the riches
of the Somerset quarries in these cities today. THE
OUTRAGEOUS BELLE MARCHMAIN is a fascinating look at the
drivers of social change as well as a splendid romance.
Agreeing to a fake betrothal should suit both society
dressmaker Belle Marchmain and landowner Adam Davenant
fittinglyâ€”clearing Belle's debts and keeping Adam's husband-
hunters at bay. Even if blue-blooded Belle, with her
extravagant clothes and razor-sharp tongue, despises the
very air that nouveau riche Adam breathes!
If Adam wants a wife who's agreeable he has his work cut
out. Yet when his demanding mouth caresses Belle's, for the
first time ever she's lost for words. Maybe Adam's found
the one way to tame the only woman who's ever stood up to
him and make her say "I do ."