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In a small, 18th-century Staffordshire village, Joseph Drayton is more than willing to take over the duties as head of the family and Master Potter following his father's death. In both tasks he is shrewd, manipulative and coldblooded. As a potter, he schemes to thwart the development of his more talented younger brother. And as head of the family, he pays off the man his sister Jessica loves in order to arrange a more advantageous marriage to Max Freeman--but unbeknown to him at the time, Jessica is already pregnant with Roger's child. When Joseph learns of her condition, he insists she have a secret abortion and go ahead with the planned wedding. At the last moment, though, she is rescued by Simon Kendall, who, upon hearing of her plight, proposes a marriage of convenience for both of them: she needs a father for her child, and he needs a respectable wife to help him gain social acceptance for a business deal. Finally, Joseph's ruthless meddling lands Jessica's twin sister in a loveless and brutal marriage to Max Freeman and almost costs their brother Martin his dream of becoming a master potter in his own right. But at the finale the bad guys get their comeuppance and the righteous, their reward. Randall has proven herself previously to be a champion of the socially outcast in The Ladies of Hanover Square (1981) and The Mating Dance (1979). This is a mild, slow-paced tale--spiced up by the Dusty activities of Joseph Drayton and Max Freeman--but at heart, a sweet chronicle of the love-after-marriage between Jessica and Simon Kendall.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1986
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton--dist. by David & Charles