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Mistress of My Fate (Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot) Hardcover – January 8, 2013


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Product Details

  • Series: Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (January 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781455511808
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455511808
  • ASIN: 1455511803
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,408,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Historian Rubenhold exploits her in-depth knowledge of eighteenth-century British society to page-turning advantage in the first installment of a trilogy detailing the often titillating adventures of Henrietta Lightfoot. Although parentless, Henrietta is raised alongside her aristocratic cousins, the social lines that divide them clearly drawn. When Henrietta unexpectedly eclipses her cousin Catherine in the eyes of dashing Lord Allenham, and her true parentage is revealed, she must marry against her will or be cast aside completely. Fleeing into the illicit arms of the handsome lord, who harbors secrets of his own, she begins to unravel the mystery of her own past. When her lover disappears, she is forced, as an unconnected woman of her time and place, to rely on both her guile and her feminine charms to survive in the seamy underbelly of respectable society while she continues to search for her missing paramour. Devilry, debauchery, and desire reign supreme in volume one of this colorful Regency romp. --Margaret Flanagan

Review

First of a trilogy about virtue compromised and beauty commodified, set in late-18th-century England.

As a child, Henrietta is brought into the London home of Lord and Lady Stavourley, to be raised along with their two sons and daughter, Catherine. Early on, Henrietta resigns herself to her position in the household-that of a poor cousin, who if she is lucky, will be Catherine's companion after she is married. After Catherine's coming-out, it is to lovely Henrietta that handsome Lord Allenham directs his attention. However, since Henrietta is penniless, and Lord Allenham's cash-strapped family estate needs shoring up, he courts Catherine. Catherine's engagement is announced, but all along Allenham has been secretly corresponding with Henrietta, professing his love. When a scheming housemaid turns the letters over to Catherine, she scratches Henrietta's face and vows revenge. However, days before the wedding, Catherine dies of a fever. As the Stavourley household mourns, Lord Stavourley reveals the truth: Henrietta is no cousin, but his illegitimate daughter. Since Henrietta is dowryless (a spiteful Lady Stavourley controls the purse strings), her only option is marriage to a clergyman of her father's choosing. Desperate, Henrietta flees to Allenham's country estate, where the two consummate their forbidden love. He sets her up in a comfortable cottage, but then, unknown circumstances (which may pertain to his political ambitions) compel him to leave. Fruitlessly searching for Allenham in London, Henrietta learns that her mother was Mrs. Kennedy, a famous courtesan who retired to live with a rich lover, St John. Arriving at St John's residence, she finds she is too late-Mrs. Kennedy died years before. At first St John seems avuncular, but his lustful intentions are soon apparent. Henrietta succumbs since she can't face making her living on the streets, particularly since she is newly pregnant with Allenham's child. Historian Rubenhold has fashioned a page turner rife with choice tidbits about London's demimonde, however readers, kept on tenterhooks by ever more precarious cliffhangers, may feel cheated by the ending.

A tantalizing introduction.

Kirkus Reviews

Historian Rubenhold exploits her in-depth knowledge of eighteenth-century British society to page-turning advantage in the first installment of a trilogy detailing the often tittilating adventures of Henrietta Lightfoot. Although parentless, Henrietta is raised alongside her aristocratic cousins, the social lines that divide them clearly drawn. When Henrietta unexpectedly eclipses her cousin Catherine in the eyes of dashing Lord Allenham, and her true parentage is revealed, she must marry against her will or be cast aside completely. Fleeing into the illicit arms of the handsome lord, who harbors secrets of his own, she begins to unravel the mystery of her own past. When her lover disappears, she is forced, as an unconnected woman of her time and place, to rely on both her guile and her feminine charms to survive in the seamy underbelly of respectable society while she continues to search for her missing paramour. Deviltry, debauchery, and desire reign supreme in volume one of this colorful Regency romp.

Booklist

Like Fanny Hill and Moll Flanders, Rubenhold's naughty, bawdy debut is the tale of a bold woman whose daring adventures will captivate readers. Rubenhold's eye for rich detail and dialogue, coupled with witty writing and deft prose, turn this first-person "confession" into a "you are there" novel that readers will never want to end. The smart and sassy heroine and her every adventure are an irresistible delight. Be swept away into another world, another life and another romp of a read.
Raised in the country, orphan Henrietta Longfoot is almost unaware of her station in life as she lives with her noble cousins. But when she learns the truth of her heritage and gets caught up in a forced marriage and murder, she flees to London and naïvely becomes a member of the demimonde. She falls hopelessly in love with the wrong man and makes her way through London's gambling halls, ballrooms and bedrooms, becoming an integral part of a community that accepts her intelligence and unique spirit. But Henrietta is intent upon finding the love of her life, even if she has to leave London for Paris, where even more adventure awaits.—RT Book Reviews

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Customer Reviews

I read it in a weekend and could not put it down.
ang
The story was slightly repetitive, and the character was a bit annoying at times and a lot of the extra characters are very one dimensional.
Juni
Interesting commentary on a woman's life during that time period.
JG

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By P. Woodland TOP 1000 REVIEWER on January 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Mistress of My Fate is written as a confessional memoir by Miss Henrietta (Ingerton) Lightfoot as she tries to set straight the rumors swirling about her and her actions. The book is written in the first person so you almost feel as if you are sitting with Ms. Lightfoot, sipping a cup of tea and listening to her tell you her sometimes sordid story. But what was a young girl to do? It was a time period when women had no rights, they had no way of making a place in the world without the protection of a family name or a husband. Miss Lightfoot was brought up in a noble household but as the child of a second son, long dead she had no prospects for a good marriage and is being groomed to be a lady in waiting to her cousin. Her cousin is a rather spoiled, unpleasant woman and used people only when she thinks they can serve her needs.

While on vacation in Bath both girls meet a young man and unfortunately they both fall in love. He too falls in love but societal demands and the needs of his estate cause him to pursue Henrietta's cousin while making plans to have all three of them live together. They think that this is better than never seeing each other again. But alas, it is not to be and a series of revelations and circumstances cause Henrietta to feel she must flee the only home she has ever known.

But as she writes in her book - there are no instructions for a young girl out on her own. She barely knows how to dress herself let alone how to get along in the world. She soon finds out that nothing is free and it takes her many hard lessons to effectively learn how to survive.

This is the first of three books detailing Ms. Lightfoot's life and loves and I can say that I'll be very much looking forward to the next installments.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Brett H TOP 100 REVIEWER on November 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Henrietta is indeed an innocent abroad, as green as grass. However, possessed of a degree of wit, intelligence and native cunning, she soon learns and learns fast how to survive in a hostile environment outside of the cocooned existence of her upbringing. The first third of the book is devoted to a narrative which explains what happened before October 16th 1789, which is headlined on the back cover as the day she felt obliged to flee from her home. This is interesting and eventful, but nothing like as eventful as what befalls her once she makes the momentous decision to leave!

Henrietta very soon comes to realise that, in her own words, nothing goes for nothing in this world and it does not take her long to start to manipulate situations for her own benefit. Initially totally naïve, she quickly learns to be suspicious of motives and to take nothing at face value, although she does come to understand that quite a few of the people she meets are genuine and even if what is being proposed is not very palatable it is sometimes meant kindly with her best interests at heart. Indeed quite a number of her acquaintances recognise her naivety and go out of their way to tutor her in the ways of the world.

This book is written in the first person which is highly effective and seems quite natural in this context with none of the awkwardness which sometimes results when telling a story from this perspective. The whole volume is addressed to an early Victorian audience and defers to their prejudices and prudishness - this gives a period flavour which works really well. From the advanced publicity, the reader might have expected a bawdy historical tale and if this is the case they will not be disappointed.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Keris Nine TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 26, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
The title of Hallie Rubenhold's period romance is a little ironic, since it seems that the struggle of the novel's protagonist Henrietta Lightfoot to take control of her life and not suffer the same fate as countless other women who have gone to their ruin, results in her not so much being a Mistress of her Fate, as fated to be a Mistress. Her attempt to control her own destiny is appropriate however, since being set in the later years of the eighteenth century, there is a revolutionary tone to Henrietta's actions and mindset that is rather more modern in outlook. The usual outcome for women in her position is not one that Henrietta has in mind for herself, and the whole drive of the novel consequently is built upon the determination, ingenuity and desire for liberty that takes the young woman on a dangerous path that is very much against the prevailing values of her society.

If this outlook is somewhat ahead of its time, and sets Henrietta apart from all the other characters in the novel, it provides Mistress of her Fate with a rather more accessible view of the times than any authentic writing from this period might. In a way, this is part of the aim of the novel, since its readership could find it difficult to place themselves in the same position as the protagonist, where, although it may seem obvious to say so, there were no instruction manuals on how to live life and certainly no Facebook or internet forums to discuss your problems. Hallie only has Goethe's romanticised Werther to guide her towards understanding the feelings inspired in her by a young gentleman that a girl in her position - taken in as an orphan by a family of good name - has no business associating with.
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