Lucinda Brant’s Roxton Family Saga tells the story of a noble family of the Georgian era. The patriarch of the family, the Duke of Roxton, has an iron will, a razor wit, and an unquenchable devotion to his much younger bride, the French firecracker Antonia. Their offspring and assorted in-laws and cousins make up the protagonists of all the novels, stories that pay homage to Georgette Heyer but with far more sultriness, grittiness, and glitz.
One of my favorite things about Lucinda Brant’s novels (other than the rich tapestry of history and witty dialogue that every story contains) are the covers! Every few years, Brant changes up the cover art for the novels, and I enjoy seeing each iteration with the gorgeous Georgian gowns and frock coats for gentlemen.
Volume One of the series tells the story of Julian and Deb. Forced by his father, the old duke, to marry Deb with they are still youths, Julian grows up as the wastrel Lord Alston, haunted by the sins of his past and afraid that his wife will never love him for who he really is. Deb, who thought the clandestine marriage was merely a strange dream, is unaware that she is already leg-shackled and has grown to the ripe age of one and twenty as an independent woman not afraid of traveling to the continent alone. When she encounters Julian bleeding in the forest from an attack by footpads, she capably and competently sets to bandaging his wounds. Intrigued, Julian tries to make her fall in love with him before revealing that they are already, in fact, married. Learning of some of Julian’s reprehensible behavior, Deb is frightened of his claim on her. Julian compounds the matter by insisting on his husbandly rights, and the story takes a rather dark turn before the romance finally resolves itself in the end.
I read this first book of the series several years ago, and was so irritated by Julian’s disgusting behavior towards Deb that I didn’t move on to reading the subsequent books. After enjoying Lucinda Brant’s other series, however (to wit, Salt Hendon and Alex Halsey), I finally resolved to circle back to this one, and I’m glad I did….
Volume Two tells the story of Antonia Roxton’s second great love. With such an age difference between her and the duke, she was destined to be a young widow. Disconsolate after Roxton’s death, Antonia refuses to mingle with society, prompting her son Julian to put her under the care of a prestigious doctor (who turns out to be a deviant monster). She never dreams to find love again, least of all with the self-possessed widower and merchant Jonathan Strang.
Jonathan was not in the market for marrying a second time, but when he catches sight of the voluptuous dowager, he is smitten. With astonishing good sense and sangfroid, he navigates the tumultuous relationships of the Roxton family, persuading Antonia that he’s worth risking her heart again and rescuing her from a fate worse than death.
Volume Three tells the story of that rakish rogue, Dair Fitzstuart. Cousin to the Roxtons, Dair is a debauched war hero on the outside while being a caring father and loyal spy in secret. When a prank of epic proportions causes Dair to become tangled up with the spymaster’s crippled granddaughter, Rory, Dair sees something special in her that no one else has taken the time to notice. Insecure with her own physical difficulties, Rory questions whether Dair’s interest in her is another prank and whether he still carries a flame for the mother of his young son Jamie. Dealing tenderly with Rory’s lameness and Dair’s scars from an abusive childhood, this story pairs two unlikely leads in a page-turning romance.
Volume Four tells the story of Dair’s sister, Mary Cavendish. Wounded, widowed, and left destitute, Mary complains about being left in the care of her fiendish husband’s friend-cum-steward, Christopher Bryce. What she doesn’t know is that the impassive and infuriating Christopher has a scandalous past on the continent in his younger days, that he was working as a spy when he “befriended” her husband, and that all his endeavors have been for her and her alone. When Mary’s cousin Evelyn returns from the continent, Mary must make a decision whether to make the match everyone is expecting, or allow Christopher to gently peel away the layers with which she has protected herself for so long.
Volume Five tells the story of the youngest of the Roxton set, Henri-Antoine, the epileptic son of the old Duke and Antonia. Determined to live life on his own terms, Henri-Antoine refuses to be labeled by his medical condition, employing his own troupe of retainers to slip him away in secret whenever an attack comes upon him. When the impoverished Lisa Crisp provides him assistance, he determines to make her his mistress. As a relation of Antonia’s former lady’s maid, Lisa has connections that Henri-Antoine hasn’t reckoned with, however, and soon the whole family becomes involved in the burgeoning love affair to make sure that Henri-Antoine does the right thing.
Listed as Volume Eight on Amazon (following two volumes of letters exchanged by the principals in the series), Noble Satyr is really the prequel to the whole saga. The story of the irrepressible Antonia and the jaded Duke of Roxton, this colorful tale mirrors the relationship between Leonie and the Duke of Avon in Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades. Antonia escapes the clutches of more than one villain while doing her best to persuade Monsieur le Duc that she is not, in fact, too young and innocent to be his bride. Filled with action and intrigue, this story spans the Channel between France and England, establishing the characters that sparkle throughout the pages of the rest of the Roxton Family Saga.