An Honourable Estate
Elizabeth Ashworth’s second novel is, like her first, set in the north but this time during the Great Famine in the reign of Edward II. Mabel Bradshaigh, lady of Haigh Manor, finds her world thrown into turmoil when her husband joins a rebellion against their overlord, the earl of Lancaster. When he is suspected to have been killed after a disastrous battle, their lands are declared forfeit and given to the odious Peter Lymesey for a year and a day. Faced with losing everything, Mabel determines to fight to retain her inheritance and protect her daughters—whatever the cost to herself or her heart.
The novel is a nice, easy read—perfect for fans of the historical romance genre. The characters are believable, although I would have preferred to have seen a few more shades of grey, for example, in Peter Lymesey, who comes over as a bit of a two- dimensional villain—all flaws and no redeeming characteristics. On the other hand, Edmund Neville is wonderfully written—an anti-hero who also engenders some sympathy in the reader.
Historically, in general, the background was well-researched and rang true. There were a couple of exceptions that jarred with me though: hares being caught in the wood and the lack of servants at the manor. Also, the content could perhaps have benefitted from another edit as there were a few minor typos. But these were minor things and would not spoil enjoyment for most readers.
The cover and layout look professional, although the page margins are a little wider than normal. This did not interfere with my reading enjoyment, however. Overall this was an enjoyable light read.