The Devil’s Dance
Timothy Ryland stands accused by his father, Josh, and his father’s best friend, Nick Marriott, of a terrible deed. Nick’s teenage daughter Rebecca is pregnant and claims Timothy is the father. Timothy knows this to be untrue, yet without hesitation, agrees to Nick’s demand that he must marry Rebecca. His cool demeanour make his seeming betrayal all the bitterer to his accusers. Outrage made all the worse by the fact that Timothy has known Rebecca since a small girl and is now a lawyer in his first legal practice. With her lie, Rebecca has spawned anger enough to rip the Rylands apart, laying Timothy open to contempt from those he loves.
Told largely from Timothy’s point of view, this is a gripping tale of love, deceit and the tangled lives of two families. It is a credit to the author that though its subject is occasionally melodramatic, it never appears overly so. Instead we are given a richly sympathetic treatment of some of the less savoury aspects of sexual behaviour in early Victorian England. Timothy is a thoroughly engaging and likeable character, noble but flawed. I found the minor characters well drawn, especially Timothy and Rebecca’s respective mothers. Well worth reading.