|Pub. Date:||Jan. 2015|
|Length:||~3.5 hrs each|
These two novellas are prequels to the Windham series, telling the story of the Windham parents, Percival and Esther. The Courtship tells the story of how Percivel and Esther met and got married, and The Duke and His Duchess is a peek into the couple's life a few years down the road.
Percival Windham was the second son of a duke when he is invited to a house party with his younger brother, Anthony, and a house full of marriage-minded females. Percy is only recently returned from Canada where he was enlisted in the cavalry and wasn't seriously considering marriage before this house party... but then his eye is drawn to a pretty blonde in the corner. Ester Himmelfarb, despite her plain dress and hairstyle is a prepossessing female, all the more attractive for her lack of guile and marital scheming. Ester is a poor relation who was invited solely to even out the numbers, and the other catty females treat her more like a servant. It was fun to see her stick to the snobs and catch the big fish... a second son who was likely to become the duke due to his elder brother's poor health. I also loved it when some of the scheming women's antics blew up in their face.
Then we jump ahead a five years to The Duke and His Duchess and this virile couple already has four male children and have ensured the ducal line of succession. But now the marriage seems to have a hit a rough patch... which I can only imagine is normal in a household with that many small children. Esther is exhausted to the point of fainting and Percy is extremely worried for her. When two very different women show up with a secret from Percy's past, it promises to make a bad home situation even worse. There was clear miscommunication happening between Percy and Esther, but it was also apparent just how much they loved each other. I like stories like this where we get to see the couple after the courtship when they have moved on to their day-to-day lives.
These quick novellas provide a good setup for the Windham series and I am glad I started here. The epilogue was particularly good and gave us a glimpse of the entire family together celebrating the birth of the youngest daughter, Louisa. The Windhams seem to be a very close-knit and loving family, a foundation that was started by Percy and Esther.