Hannah Rogers had been earning a living as a lady’s companion to Lady Marianna Mayfield when she unexpectedly left her post. With no one to cover for her illicit affair, this put Lady Marianna in an awkward position; when Hannah returns to collect owed wages, Marianna finagles the young woman into returning. But en route to their country home, a tragic coach accident occurs and Marianna dies, though Hannah and Sir John survive. In the confusing days that follow, Hannah’s mistaken for the lady of the house and, with Sir John incapacitated, she allows the rue to continue. But when Sir John begins to recover, will she be turned out, unable to care for the child she’s had out of wedlock?
Klassen takes a Gothic atmosphere and, in Hannah and Sir John, imbues it with sympathetic characters. Both duped by Marianna, they begin to forge a bond that is threatened by Sir John’s solicitor as he delves into the truth, determined to expose Hannah’s perfidy. There are a couple of twists I didn’t see coming, and a rather frightening trial that kept me on the edge of my seat. There is also a side story concerning Hannah’s disapproving father that is sweet but mostly unnecessary, though it is nice to see them come to an understanding. Atmospheric and moody, overall this story is reminiscent of Victoria Holt’s finest.