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EMERALD by Helen Ashfield



Pub Date: Aug. 3rd, 1983
Publisher: St. Martin's

Gruel-to-caviar, early-19th-century romance--with a few more zippy complexities than you'll find in Ashfield's other novels. Daughter of a feckless fisherman and whining Mum, Emily Tregellan wants more than anything to escape the grimy coldpotato life on the Cornwall coast. She has her chance when she's sent to chore for the local seamstress, Oonagh Pezzach, who turns out to be a kind soul who early on realizes that Emily is a wizard with the needle. Soon Emily is learning the craft she loves; Oonagh encourages her in her dream of owning her own shop. And Emily doesn't give love a thought until one day she catches sight of 16-year-old Nicholas Roman, Viscount Asterly: Nicholas and Emily (who has by this time decided to call herself ""Emerald"") are pierced by passion, lambasted by innocent lust. But Emerald will be raped by drunken farmhand Noah, and driven off--as a fallen woman--to slave as a scullery maid for the family of Jehu Feverell, with her sewing skills rapidly bringing her upstairs. . . and her beauty bringing Jehu right into Emerald's bedroom. (She's willing to go through some distasteful motions to add to the nest egg she expects to hatch in London.) Eventually, then, Emerald establishes her posh shop, Nicholas reappears--and, despite some caste barriers and Nicholas' discovery of Emerald's erotic past, there'll be a happy ending. . . with marriage, motherhood, and a grand sacrifice that pays off. Hardly a jewel of the genre, but more than a few sparkles along the way.