Never Less Than A Lady (Lost Lords #2)
Mary Jo Putney
Kensington Publishing Corp
Read from my local library
Alexander Randall was never expected to become the sole remaining heir of the Earl of Daventry. A despised family member, Randall had taken a commission in the army and had fought overseas while there were still the sons of the Earl between him and the title. Now they are gone and only he remains as the heir presumptive so he knows he must sell his commission and get himself back to England and do the right thing by taking a wife and producing some heirs.
As the new heir to an Earldom, Randall is not an unattractive prospect but the only woman that has interested in him some time is a midwife by the name of Julia. It is a stroke of luck that Randall is able to play saviour to Julia – he was in the right place at the right time. When he learns just who seeks to make her life a misery, Randall offers her marriage. After all, to become the Countess of Daventry is no less than what she deserves after everything she has endured.
Julia’s first reaction is to say no – after all she’s tried marriage once before and it had horrific consequences. But she feels differently about Randall. Even though she still has things she must confess to him before she agrees to his offer, Julia is far more tempted by him that she has ever been, awakening feelings that she thought were long dead.
Never Less Than A Lady is the second in the Lost Lords series and both characters, Alexander Randall and Julia were introduced pretty well in the previous book, Loving A Lost Lord. Julia is a midwife who lived near to Mariah’s new estate and made friends with her and Randall is one of the series titular Lost Lords, who in the last book, was looking for Adam, the Duke of Ashford when he was believed dead. Randall was clearly affected by Julia in their brief interactions and he seemed to deal with this by avoiding her completely. In this book however, he actively seeks her out, wishing to see her. His timing is impeccable and he is able to rescue Julia from an abduction attempt.
Afterwards he learns her terrible story and it is terrible. Julia suffered unspeakable abuse at the hands of her former husband, who is now dead and she bears those scars, both physical and mental deeply even almost a decade later. I really appreciated the way that Randall was so accepting of Julia’s issues and he was considerate and concerned for her as well. He wants them to have a real marriage but he does accept that this may not be easy and he gives Julia the control over how quickly things develop and what it is acceptable. He also gives her financial independence when it turns out that Julia is of course, not exactly the unassuming widow that she seemed. She has blueblood heritage and is wealthy in her own right, with supportive relatives still. Randall knows how important it is to Julia not to be dependent upon him. Although the marriage started out as a way for Randall to protect Julia from danger, the two of them fall in love with each other and both agonise over the fact that once the danger is addressed and dealt with, there’s really no need to continue with the charade. They both think the other will want to end it at the soonest opportunity, even though both have nothing further from their minds.
Julia learned the skill of midwifery after she fled society and I really thought that was an interesting addition to the series. Mariah discovers happy news in this novel and of course she wants Julia to help with her care. The current Earl’s wife is also pregnant as well as being over 40 and she also asks Julia for advice. The scene where we get to see Julia in action is amazing, especially given how unorthodox this probably would’ve been, a woman taking over and even dismissing a male physician when he arrived. Julia’s approach to birth was very modern and could’ve easily slotted into a contemporary novel.
Out of the three books I’ve read from this series, this is definitely the one that I’ve enjoyed the most and I think it’s also the one where the two characters had the best backstories and chemistry. Julia’s story is both fascinating and horrifying and I think the way she reinvented herself was incredible. I also found Randall really interesting and enjoyed him a lot more than the two heroes from the other books. He was definitely more my sort of man I think!
Book #182 of 2014