The Runaway Heiress
The night her uncle and guardian informs her that she is to marry her cousin, Frances Hanwell escapes Torrington Hall, where she has lived most of her life. Her aunt and uncle have mistreated her and while their son has been decent to Frances, he’s not been her champion. She manages to escape by hiding in the carriage of a neighbor, Hugh, Marquess of Aldeborough, recently returned from the Peninsular War. Very much in his cups, Hugh mistakes Frances for a runaway scullery maid, and considering her life at the Hall this is not far from the truth. In the morning, a sober Hugh realizes who Frances really is and insists on marrying her to preserve her reputation. Recognizing this as possibly her only realistic option, Frances accepts. There are murder attempts, a kidnapping, a jealous woman, and a guilty conscience to stir the plot along to its inevitable happy ending.
Anne O’Brien’s fifth book is packed with enough action and adventure to be interesting, but there is a surreal sense of time and distance.