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The Illegitimate Montague (Castonbury Park, Book 5) (Mills & Boon - Castonbury Park) by Sarah Mallory (2012-12-01)

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  • Mills & Boon (1893)
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Review Text

  • By Rudolphthemad on February 19, 2013

    This like the majority in this multi-authored series, was an excellent book. It is a nice change of pace to have a story involving the lower class that has made good. Free-enterprise and all that. While I truly love the time period and the aristocratic story line, as an American it is nice to see someone make good from humble beginnings. The essence of second chances and you make your own destiny. Great book and a great series.

  • By Marshall Lord on August 20, 2013

    "The Illegitimate Montague" by Sarah Mallory is the fifth of the eight books by different authors in the "Castonbury Park" series of romances. The series is marketed as "A Regency Upstairs Downstairs" which is not a bad description of most of the books.The novels in the "Castonbury Park" series take place between spring 1816 and Summer 1817 and one of the main romantic protagonists in each book is a different member of the fictional Montague family, whose head is the "Duke of Rothermere." The main family seat, and location of the main action of most of the books including this one, is Castonbury Park in Derbyshire, inspired by the real and magnificent Kedleston Hall in that county.In the over-arching plot for the series as a whole, the Montague family are going through a difficult time: the duke's heir Jamie, Marquis of Hatherton, had gone missing presumed dead on a dangerous mission behind enemy lines during the Peninsular war. The youngest son, Ned, had been killed at Waterloo. The death of his sons affected the Duke's mind, and he made some bad investments which put the family's financial position in difficulty. In the midst of this situation a young woman calling herself Alicia Montague appears, claiming to be Jamie's widow having married him in Spain shortly before his death. She has a young son who she says is Jamie's heir, which would make the boy the next Duke of Rothermere.The second son, Lord Giles finds himself responsible for managing the estate and saving what he can from the wreckage. One of the first things he does is to ask his cousin, Colonel Ross Montague to check if Alcia appears to be what she says she is. Later Giles sends the third son lord Harry, his last remaining legitimate brother, to Spain to look into the circumstances of Jamie's death and try to find any evidence of whether Alicia and her boy are really his widow and son. The seventh book in the series, "Redemption of a Fallen Woman," tells the story of what Harry found in Spain, and the final book, "A stranger at Castonbury" finally resolves the issue.The title of this book appears at first to be a reference to the fact that although the hero of this book has a different surname, there is a widespread local belief that he is actually the illegitimate son of the duke. Captain Adam Stratton, late of the Royal Navy, is the son of the Castonbury housekeeper, Hannah Stratton, and there has never been much sign that there was ever a Mr Stratton. As a boy Adam Stratton played with the Montague children and when he joined the navy as a young man he apparently enjoyed the Duke's patronage. In the Toyal Navy of the time, which was the most meritocratic part of Georgian society, you usually needed both ability and "interest" (strong family or professional connections) to obtain fast promotion. Adam had worked his way up to command his own ship by the age of 20, and shortly afterwards become hero of the Battle of Trafalgar: this would be very likely to indicate that he had both considerable bravery and skill at the job and the Duke's active support. However, sickened by the carnage at Trafalgar, Adam had then left the navy to set up for himself in business, at which he has been successful. He now runs a major cotton spinning business in Lancashire.At the start of the book Adam Stratton is returning to Castonbury to visit his mother when he sees and foils an attempted act of assault and vandalism against a pretty businesswoman. Amber Hall, owner of a clothing business called Ripley and Hall had been on her way to castonbury with with a wagon load of goods when she was attacked by two ruffians who she suspected of working for her main business rival. Adam Stratton arrives just in time to prevent her from losing the shipment, which would have done serious damage to her business. Adam and Amber are very taken with each other: could this be the start of a beautiful friendship? Or will their fledgling romance by a casualty of the machinations of Amber's business rival or the tortuous goings-on at Castonbury Park?I liked the characters in this story and there were some well described scenes.This series varied a bit in quality. If it would have been easy for the heroes and heroines of pretty well all the characters in this series to ignore the rules of Regency society as they do, those rules would have been a lot less strict than they were, and this book is an extreme example. However, at least the book is honest about when the characters in the story are behaving in a way which would have defied the conventions of the time. For example. Adam Stratton is supposed to have left the Navy "some ten years before" to set up in business, and this is described as having "shocked" his mother.She would not have been the only one. Ten years before would have been about 1806, the year of Austerlitz. A time when Britain was in the thick of possibly the biggest war in the history of the world up to that date, and was straining every sinew to maintain far and away the largest and most powerful navy the world had ever seen - five hundred ships of war at sea, well over of a hundred of them ships of the line. The press gangs were sweeping every town for men, the courts were sending any able-bodied man convicted of a crime to sea rather than prison, and the social and patriotic pressure to sign up for the army or navy was enormous.I just can't see a fit and successful naval officer in his twenties choosing that moment to leave the navy, even if he had grown sick of the horrors of war, which Adam says in the book had been his reason for resigning his commission. The social and professional pressure to stay in the navy - almost certainly combined with the quiet offer of one of the many vital navy jobs which desperately needed doing but in which Adam would have been unlikely to have to face another battle - would have been overwhelming.Openly expressing regret at the waste of life which war represents was becoming far more common at the time of this book - even Wellington did so on more than one occasion - but outright pacifism was not. The more likely attitude of a successful navy officer of that period who had become disillusioned by the cost of war would be to want peace but believe that Napoleon was not going to stop fighting until he conquered the world or was beaten, and therefore to want to win the war as quickly as possible and then happily retire from Navy.Nevertheless this is an entertaining story.The full series consists of:1) "The Wicked Lord Montague (Castonbury Park)" by Carole Mortimer2) "The Housemaids Scandalous Secret (Mills & Boon - Castonbury Park)" by Helen Dickson3) "The Lady Who Broke the Rules (Mills & Boon - Castonbury Park)" by Marguerite Kaye4) "Lady of Shame (Mills & Boon Special Releases)" by Ann Lethbridge5) This book, "The Illegitimate Montague (Mills & Boon - Castonbury Park)" by Sarah Mallory6) "Unbefitting a Lady (Castonbury Park)" by Bronwyn Scott7) "Redemption of a Fallen Woman (Mills & Boon - Castonbury Park)" by Joanna Fulford, and finally8) "A Stranger at Castonbury (Mills & Boon - Castonbury Park)" by Amanda McCabe

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