Ridiculous

Ridiculous - D.L.   Carter 4-4.5 starsThis was a free e-book.... WOW! While the story moves, even in the beginning, I wasn't quite sure where *I* was with the story. But it held my interest until it engaged me completely! I was consumed with finishing this book - I couldn't even imagine how it could possibly wrap up. And let me tell you, it finished beyond my expectations.I highly recommend it (even if you have to pay for it) to any readers who enjoy Regency romances and Regency historical fiction.Sure, the ending might be a bit ridiculous, but that's the BOOK! Sure, it's a bit of "the happy ending" phenomenon, but that's the book!In a daring female impersonates a male story worthy of Shakespeare himself, Millicent Boarders seizes the opportunity and the day when her miserly cousin, Mr. Anthony North, dies of a fever. Two years earlier, Millicent's father died, a poor second son and tutor, who never prepared financially for his family upon his death. Millicent, her two sisters, and their mother braved out their meager existence for awhile, and even went to the poor house; but then, Felicity (the mother) received a reply from one of her cousins - Mr. North - who invited them to live with him on his Yorkshire estate. Except upon arriving, they discovered that Mr. North had let go all his servants, expecting his female relatives to handle all the chores and maintenance of the estate. That meant that besides regular servant work, Millicent became Mr. North's secretary, privy to most, if not all, of his business, finances, and estate holdings.When Mr. North dies, Millicent realizes that she and her family will be turned out on the streets again or worse. So she decides to *become* Mr. Anthony North, while Millicent Boarders (the real Mr. North) is buried as the one who died of the fever. Millicent is rather tall for a girl and thin, with not much of the female voluptuous figure. With a bit of breast binding and a hair cut, she dons Mr. North's baggy, second-hand clothing and becomes him. However, to avoid anyone who knows the real Mr. North from looking too closely and discovering her secret, Millicent as Mr. North takes her family away to Bath. While there, Mr. North receives a letter from one of his Welsh tenants, who asks for a reprieve from 1/3rd of his rents due to flooding on his lands. Mr. North (Millicent) decides he must make a trip to the farm and see for himself; and while he's at it, "he" decides to tour all his tenant farms in the surrounding Bath area. Felicity (Millicent's mother) is still not sure of this disguise and fearful that others will discover her secret; but Millicent and her sisters persuade Felicity that without Mr. North's income (the man was quite rich, despite his miserly spending) and his properties, they're all doomed. As part of her disguise, Millicent/Mr. North has decided not to pretend to be too much of the stereotypical "man" of the time. Rather, she's decided to be a bit ridiculous - a congenial, witty, baggy-clothed gentleman.So off Millicent/Mr. North goes, to inspect Mr. Prichart's farm and investigate his request. On the way, she comes upon a carriage that has overturned in the slippery mud. She and her rented team assist the occupants of the coach, the Duke of Trolenfield Timothy Shofer, his sister Lady Elizabeth, and her companion Mrs. Fleming. Because of the weather and the condition of the roads, all must stay with the Pricharts until the roads are passable. Which throws Millicent as Mr. North into the same drawing room as the Duke for their bedchamber. Despite the obvious awkwardness of the situation, from almost the minute of seeing him, Millicent was drawn to the Duke (who insists Mr. North call him Shofer) as to no other man. How ironic, she thinks, that after she's decided to throw away all her female chances for matrimony and children that she finally meets the man of her dreams!Mr. North becomes great friends with Shofer and his sister, Lady Beth. But how long can the friendship continue? Can Mr. North make good marriage matches for his sisters, despite discovering that by the terms of Mr. North's father's will, Mr. North cannot sell or deed or will any of his properties and must maintain the stated balance in the bank accounts? What happens when Shofer's enemies decide to accuse the strange but popular Mr. North of "indecent obsessions" (aka buggery) and hint that Shofer and North are too much in each others' pockets? And how long can Millicent keep up her charade as Mr. North without getting caught and very likely being hanged for stealing a substantial living?============Delightful book! Villains are despicable... the ton is in high form... and Millicent and her family must carefully navigate the waters of the ton, the Shofers, and their futures.LOVED IT!