Mr. Cavendish, I Presume. Julia Quinn. 2008. HarperCollins. 384 pages.
It was a crime that Amelia Willoughby was not married. At least that was what her mother said.
Mr. Cavendish, I Presume is a companion novel to The Lost Duke of Wyndham. I can't remember reading two books tied so closely together--within the romance genre. (The only example I can think of is Ender's Game/Ender's Shadow.) While The Lost Duke of Wyndham tells the story of Jack Audley and Grace Eversleigh, Mr. Cavendish, I Presume tells the story of Thomas Cavendish and Amelia Willoughby.
Thomas and Amelia have been betrothed for twenty years. Amelia was just an infant when her father contracted the marriage with the future Duke of Wyndham.
As far back as her earliest memory, it had been impressed upon her that this man (boy that he was at the time) was in charge. Her life, quite simply, and with no arguments accepted, revolved around his.Thomas is indifferent to Amelia, and that infuriates Amelia. It's not that she's in love with him. She's not. How can she love a man who's practically a stranger to her? What frustrates her is that she wants to get to know him. And he obviously doesn't want to get to know her. Now that she is of age, why isn't he taking the proper steps to making her his wife? How long will she have to wait for him?
He spoke, she listened.
He beckoned, she jumped.
He entered a room, and she smiled with delight.
And most importantly, she was glad for the opportunity. She was a lucky girl, because she got to agree with everything he said.
Except--and this had to be his greatest offense--he rarely spoke to her. He almost never beckoned--what could he possibly require that she could provide? And she'd given up smiling when he entered a room because he was never looking in her direction, anyway. (32)
What changes? It starts when he finds her alone in the garden and they share a kiss.
"I ought to kiss you again," he said, lifting one brow into a practiced, arrogant arch.It escalates when his world becomes threatened by the arrival of Jack Audley, a young man who could very well be the rightful Duke of Wyndham. Who is Thomas if he isn't the Duke? Amelia has been raised to be the Duchess. Does he even have a claim to her if he loses his title and land? Would she want him if he wasn't the Duke? Is it fair that he would want her still? Will these two have their happily ever after?
She wasn't so sophisticated that she had a ready retort for that, a circumstance with which he found himself quite satisfied. He leaned forward slightly, smirking.
"You're quiet when I kiss you."
She gasped with outrage.
"You're quiet when I insult you as well," he mused, "but oddly, I don't find it quite as entertaining."
"You are insufferable," she hissed.
"And yet they arrive," he sighed. "Words. From your lips."
"I'm leaving," she declared. She turned to stalk back into the assembly hall, but he was too quick, and he slid his arm through hers before she could escape. (38)
Mr. Cavendish, I Presume shares so much with The Lost Duke of Wyndham. Same characters, same scenes, same dialogue. But the book is narrated by different characters. So readers learn what went on behind the scenes for Thomas and Amelia during this same time period. Is Thomas as romantic a hero as Jack? Is Amelia as great a heroine as Grace? I'm not sure.
I didn't like this one as much as The Lost Duke of Wyndham. But I am glad I read it.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews