Georgianne Whitley’s beloved father and brothers died in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte. While she is grieving for them, she must deal with her unpredictable mother’s sorrow, and her younger sisters’ situation caused by it.
Georgianne’s problems increase when the arrogant, wealthy but elderly Earl of Pennington, proposes marriage to her for the sole purpose of being provided with an heir. At first she is tempted by his proposal, but something is not quite right about him. She rejects him not suspecting it will lead to unwelcome repercussions.
Once, Georgianne had wanted to marry an army officer. Now, she decides never to marry ‘a military man’ for fear he will be killed on the battlefield. However, Georgianne still dreams of a happy marriage before unexpected violence forces her to relinquish the chance to participate in a London Season sponsored by her aunt.
Shocked and in pain, Georgianne goes to the inn where her cousin Sarah’s step-brother, Major Tarrant, is staying, while waiting for the blacksmith to return to the village and shoe his horse. Recently, she has been reacquainted with Tarrant—whom she knew when in the nursery—at the vicarage where Sarah lives with her husband Reverend Stanton.
The war in the Iberian Peninsula is nearly at an end so, after his older brother’s death, Tarrant, who was wounded, returns to England where his father asks him to marry and produce an heir.
To please his father, Tarrant agrees to marry, but due to a personal tragedy he has decided never to father a child.
When Georgianne, arrives at the inn, quixotic Tarrant sympathises with her unhappy situation. Moreover, he is shocked by the unforgivably brutal treatment she has suffered.
Full of admiration for her beauty and courage Tarrant decides to help Georgianne.
Fourteen year old, Georgianne Whitley leaned over the banister to watch her aunt’s butler admit a handsome cavalry officer dressed in uniform. One day, her mamma frequently assured her, she would marry such a military man, a member of her dear father’s regiment. Of course, this officer was probably too old to ever be her husband. However, in future, she was sure she would meet someone equally handsome with whom she would fall in love. She giggled. ‘Love is not the main prerequisite for marriage,’ Mamma always claimed. According to her mother, rank, lands, and wealth were more important whereas, according to Papa, love was the only reason to marry.
She turned her head to look at her cousin, Sarah Tarrant. “Who is he?”
“Don’t you recognize him? He is my half brother, Rupert, Lieutenant Tarrant.”
“Of course, but he has changed so much since I last saw him five years ago. He is taller.
Careless of whether or not he would look up and see her, Georgianne inched forward until, bent almost double, she could still gaze down at him.
Rupert removed his shako, revealing his thick, sun-kissed fair hair.
Sarah put her arms around Georgianne’s waist. “If you are not careful, you will fall.”
Georgianne gripped the rail of the highly polished oak banister while she straightened.
“Look at your gown. It’s crushed. You’re such a…a hoyden.”
She stamped her foot. “No, I’m not.”
“Yes, you are. My mamma says you are.”
“Well, she is wrong.” In spite of her denial, rueful, she looked down at her crumpled, white muslin gown. What would her aunt say if she knew Papa had taught her to shoot? Once again, she peered over the banister. A ray of June sunshine from the window illuminated the gold braid on Rupert’s scarlet uniform. Yes, one day she really would marry such an officer to please herself, and her parents.
Rupert, Major Tarrant, caught his breath at the sight of seventeen year old Georgianne. Black curls gleamed and rioted over the edges of her bandeau. Georgianne’s heart-shaped face tilted down toward her embroidery frame. Her hands lay idle on her gown. It was lilac, one of the colours of half-mourning. A sympathetic sigh escaped him. She wore the colour out of respect for her father, who lost a hand and leg, during the Battle of Salamanca, and died of gangrene more than a year ago.
There had been so many deaths since he last saw Georgianne. Not only had her brothers died during the storming of Ciudad Rodrigo but his elder brother had drowned six months ago while bathing in the lake on their father’s estate.
He advanced into the room with Adrian, Viscount Langley, at his side. Georgianne looked up and smiled. He caught himself staring into her hyacinth blue eyes, fringed with long black lashes. Colour crept over her high cheekbones. Her arched eyebrows drew together across her smooth forehead. Egad, she had the sweetest countenance he had ever seen; one with the lustrous, milky white sheen of china, and bow shaped rose pink lips to catch at the heart.
He bowed. “My condolences.”
Sarah, clad in full mourning for her older half-brother, stood to make her curtsy to Langley. “I trust you have everything you require, my lord?”
Langley bowed. “Yes, thank you.”
“My lord, allow me to introduce you to my cousin, Miss Whitley.”
Georgianne curtsied as his lordship crossed the parlour to make his bow.
Tarrant inclined his head. “Ladies, please excuse us, we must see to our horses.”
Sarah shook her head at him. “See to your horses? The grooms can do so.”
Georgianne gurgled with laughter. “Ah, Sarah, have you forgotten how cavalrymen fuss over their mounts?”
After the gentlemen left, Georgianne glanced at her cousin. She had seen little of her since Sarah yielded to the family’s persuasion to marry Wilfred Stanton, heir to his uncle, the Earl of Pennington.
Despite her reluctance to leave home because of her mamma’s unfortunate habit, and extravagant displays of grief over the loss of her husband and sons, Georgianne agreed to visit her cousin Sarah, who suffered from melancholy after the birth of a son.
Anxious for her mamma and two younger sisters, she reminded herself Whitley Manor—on the southern outskirts of Cousin Stanton’s Hertfordshire parish—lay a mere fifteen minutes away by carriage.
“Are you daydreaming, Cousin?”
Georgianne pretended to be busy untangling another strand of embroidery thread. “No.”
“Did I tell you Papa wants Tarrant to resign from the army now he is Papa’s heir?” Sarah’s needle flashed in and out of her work.
“Yes, several times.” Georgianne shivered, stretched her hands toward the fire, and fought a losing battle with the draughts in the old vicarage.
“Are you not interested in dear Tarrant?”
Georgianne bent her head. Once, she had wanted to marry a military man. However, after the loss of her father and brothers, she changed her mind for fear death might snatch him from her, either on the battlefield or as a result of wounds sustained in combat. She shook her head, remembering the dreams she harboured three years earlier when she last saw Major Tarrant. How her life had altered since then. Most of the time, she lived cloistered at home in reduced—yet not impoverished—circumstances. She spent her life in an endless round of mending and embroidery, both of which she detested. Her only escape from this drab existence consisted of daily walks, rides, or reading her beloved books. A yawn escaped her. Oh, the tedium of her days at home.
“You have not answered my question.”
Georgianne gathered her thoughts. “Yes, Sarah, I am interested in Major Tarrant. After all, we have known each other since we were in the nursery.”
“Good, but what are you thinking about? You are neglecting your sewing.”
Georgianne picked up her needle and thrust it in and out of the chemise, careless of the size of her stitches. Already she loathed the garment and vowed never to wear it.
“Papa wants Tarrant to marry,” Sarah rattled on.
Eyes downcast, Georgianne set aside her sewing and wrapped her arms around her waist for comfort. Before they died, her brothers and father had expressed their admiration for Major Tarrant in their letters. She shrugged. Once upon a time, she had built a castle in the air inhabited by Major Tarrant, a mere lieutenant when she last saw him.
Mamma still insisted on love not being the prime consideration for marriage, but novels and poems contradicted her opinion. Georgianne wanted to fall in love with one of the many eligible young gentlemen available: maybe a titled gentleman like Viscount Langley, provided he was not a military man. She shrugged. Certainly her mamma would regard the Viscount favourably. His lordship was wealthy, possessed good manners, and his height and broad shoulders equalled Major Tarrant’s. However, although she found no fault with him, Mamma might not approve of the Viscount’s skin—almost as dark as a gypsy from exposure to the sun while serving abroad—and his hair and eyes, sufficiently dark to rival any Spaniard’s. Her spirits lifted. The rectory would be a happier place with two fine young men in attendance. She was glad to be here, despite her acute concern for her family.
Sarah’s voice ended her musing. “Have you heard Tarrant inherited his godfather’s estate and fortune? Besides his pay, his income is thirty thousand pounds a year.”
Georgianne nodded. “Yes, I know. Major Tarrant is exceptionally fortunate.” Sarah blinked. “Why are you smiling?”
Georgianne stood and crossed the room to look out of the window. “I am happy because, so far, Major Tarrant and Viscount Langley have survived the war, which has taken so many lives and affected everyone in some way or another.”
She must force herself to remain cheerful. Papa had died eighteen months ago. It was time to set grief aside, if she could only find the means.
Thankfully, there was much to look forward to. After her presentation at court, she would be sure to meet many engaging gentlemen, one of whom she might marry. In time, she could help her sisters to escape their miserable existence.
Georgianne drummed her fingers on the windowsill. Her thoughts darted hither and thither. She glanced around the parlour, inhaling the odour of potpourri and lavender-scented beeswax.
Wilfred Stanton entered the room. He stood with his back to the fire, hands clasped over his paunch. “Mrs Stanton, my uncle, the Earl of Pennington, has arrived unexpectedly, and is resting after the rigours of his journey. Tarrant and his friend are busy with their horses. No, no, do not disturb yourself, my love. No need to bestir yourself on my uncle’s behalf.”
Cousin Stanton’s lips parted in a smile revealing yellowed teeth. “Ah, I know what you ladies are like. Have you been matchmaking? There must be a dozen or more eligible members of the fair sex amongst our neighbours who would be eager to meet Tarrant. If they knew of his visit, I daresay all of them would harbour thoughts of marrying him.”
“Indeed,” Sarah said in a colourless tone of voice.
Accustomed to taking long walks every day, Georgianne fidgeted. She found it difficult to tolerate Sarah’s sedentary habits.
“Sarah, will you not come for a walk? You know the doctor is concerned by your continued lethargy. Do not forget he encourages gentle exercise to improve your health.” She stared out at the dark grey clouds. Suddenly they parted and sunlight bathed her. It heightened the colour of her gown and warmed her. She reached up to smooth her bodice and noticed a movement in the shadowed east wing. Was someone peering at her through the small, diamond-shaped panes? There were no menservants in the household. Could it be Cousin Stanton’s uncle, the earl?
Sarah stepped daintily to her side, and slipped an arm around her waist. “Come, it is time to change our clothes before we dine.”
A wonderful, old-fashioned romance that brings to mind the classic epic GONE WITH THE WIND, only with a decent heroine who feels.
Sunday’s Child is a charming, enjoyable story. I particularly liked the background of the Napoleonic War interweaved with the story of 18 year-old, Georgianne,
After Georgianne’s beloved father and brothers die in the Spanish Peninsula she becomes responsible for her mother and younger sisters, and accepts the help of quixotic Tarrant, an officer, who has to fight his personal demon caused by the war.
Every character sprang to life from the written page, whether it was a beggar or a young lady of fashion with whom Georgianne engages in polite rivalry.
Rosemary Morris’ research and her knowledge of the Regency era is clearly evident. Her attention to detail is impressive. She creates the vivid images of Egyptian style furniture so popular in the era, of costumes and food. She also blends historical fact such as the Prince of Wales dislike of his wife, Caroline of Brunswick.
I look forward to reading more of Rosemary Morris’ novels.
By Great Historicals
Sunday's Child is a historical romance set during the Regency period in England. The novel is comfortable to read, filled with believable characters whose lives become complicated through no fault of their own, even though they must confront and overcome their own adversities. Georgianne is a courageous, spirited heroine who holds to her convictions in order to preserve what matters most to her. Conformity is definitely not one of her qualities, which makes for a well-rounded, interesting heroine. At the same time, Major Rupert Tarrant is steadfast, honorable, and utterly romantic. The mutual need for these characters to marry is what slowly binds them together.
This is another refreshing romance by author Rosemary Morris - easy to read, sweet, and nicely old-fashioned. Excellent writing with clever dialogue are present throughout, as is a compelling storyline. For anyone who loves romances set in the Regency era, this is definitely a lovely novel to settle down with at the end of a hectic day.