Jo Beverley's writing is usually a cut above the crowd, and A Lady's Secret is no different. Set in the Georgian period (fifty years earlier than the Regency) and revisiting some characters from previous novels,
it works well as a standalone novel and an introduction to Beverley's style.
When Robin Fitzvitry, the Earl of Huntersdown, is travelling back to England from some time spent in Versailles, he is surprised to come across a cursing nun at an inn. He soon rescues Sister Immaculata from her drudgery as companion to a shrieking woman and her two children, and they travel together onward towards England.
Things aren't quite as they seem, however. Sister Immaculata isn't quite a nun; Robin isn't quite who he introduced himself to her as – a gentleman, Mr. Bonchurch – and both have other things to hide. They travel into danger at an isolated farmhouse as Sister Immaculata, Petra d'Averio, is pursued by a man from her home in Milan. Petra is traveling to London to meet her father,
an English aristocrat, for the first time, but she won't tell Robin who he is. Robin, for his part, wants Petra for his mistress but knows she can be no more to him because of her illegitimacy. As they travel together through France
and across the Channel, and as Petra strikes off on her own across Kent and Sussex, the story keeps the reader's interest
- and the characters are great. The little Papillon dog Coquette is amusing, and both Petra and Robin are well-drawn with enjoyable conversations between them.
The basic premise, that Petra would indeed go off with a strange man she meets at an inn,
is a bit difficult to believe but the rest of the story is a great read with interesting locations, historical details and a few plot twists. A Lady's Secret is a book to enjoy.