Re-reading Joan Smith novels for the past week while recovering from the efforts of relocating my household to a different city. Joan Smith was a prolific writer whose novels are fairly short which makes them especially appealing to me since I often read from start to finish without allowing anything to interrupt me except of course, for the brief necessities of life.
In this book, we have a young lady - Mabel Anderson - who, along with her brother, have been forced to leave their home after their father died. He eventually takes a job as the local cleric and she as a school teacher. She has dreams that require money but dreams they must remain, until she is called upon to help the "gentlemen" in their quest to find a place to store their smuggled goods. Driven by her desire to help the local people have food, clothing and shelter, she soon realizes she has a gift which is recognized by the leaders of the smugglers. As such, she rises up to take the place of the retired leader and soon becomes known as "Miss Sage" by reputation among the gentlemen. Of course only two other people know her identity and neither are her brother who lives in his own world of books and learning to play the church organ.
Into this world, the government sends a new agent - Sir Stamford Wicklow - to quell the smuggling that has gotten worse since Miss Sage took over. He has an assumed identity, but Miss Sage knows exactly who is is although he is officially working at the local fabric store while the owners are taking a break. Somewhat of a flirt to all the ladies in town, he soon becomes seriously interested in Mabel and begins to court her, although not as Sir Stamford. Mabel has a huge advantage over him during the entire book since she knows who he is but he has no idea she's the mastermind behind the smuggling.
At some point, we wonder how in the world their romance will ever bear real fruit. He has a kind of fiancee to get rid of. Mabel knows about the fiancee, but he doesn't know that Mabel knows. Is he playing Mabel? Certainly she doesn't trust him. This one keeps the reader going until toward the end as to the resolution.
The picture of innocence, Miss Mabel Anderson, and the sister of a cleric. But many people in her port town of Salford lived in poverty, their only chance at making a decent living being the smuggling trade. Mab inadvertently found herself the leader of this group, but a government agent, Sir Stamford Wicklow, was come to town specifically to discover the leader’s identity—and imprison the villain. Regency Romance by Joan Smith; originally published by Fawcett Coventry
About the Author
Joan Smith lives in Georgetown, near Toronto, Canada. She has written more than a hundred books, many of them Regency romances. Robert Hale also published her previous novel, Talk of the Town.