THE ARISTOCRATS by Susannah Kells


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A first for Kells, heretofore author of historical romances (A Crowning Mercy, The Fallen Angels): a non-genre novel with more than a touch of irony, featuring two families of feuding British aristocrats during and immediately following WW II. An hour after the death of the Fourth Baron of Howarth, his eldest son and heir dies in an auto crash. This means the near-empty Howarth coffers must produce a double inheritance tax before Pearl, wife of Howarth's second son (he's MIA), can take possession of the vast Howarth estates. A bribe changes hands, death times are reversed, and Pearl inherits Howarth cheaply: but then it only makes sense that she marry Kynaston, 23rd Baron de Conroy, of a far older and grander, not to mention wealthier, family than her own--a family that, not incidentally, was Howarth's original squire (a de Conroy forebear lost the estate to a Howarth forebear at cards). Upon such a marriage, all works neatly: Pearl gains cash to maintain Howarth, and Kynaston gains Howarth. But there's a fly in the ointment, of course: Pearl's ""missing"" husband, Monty, is found. Alive and well, he returns, full of charm and smarter than any of the others--to reclaim Pearl, disrupt her frantic, last-ditch plan to marry their son to Kynaston's daughter, and challenge Kynaston to an incredible gamble--with Howarth, once again, the stakes. Thin and surfacy, but fast-paced entertainment overall, with much good, authentic-sounding aristo-banter.

Pub Date: Feb. 27th, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's