When you're desperate, you are desperate, and Eliza Farrell is really desperate. With the reappearance of her father in her life she has just lost everything and she desperately needs the funds from the commission of two astrological charts. An actress has asked Eliza do charts for her and her protector so that she will know if she should take a new part or assist her lover in his recent prank. Eliza has spent all night preparing the astrological charts based only on the date, time and place of their births; she has no idea who the protector is. When Eliza reads out to the actress that her protector has a great need to give and receive affection, someone who could be very constant in his affections, Eliza is accused of being a fraud, for the woman's protector is none other than Edward Neville, Lord Hartwood, who is more commonly known as Lord Lightning.
Unbeknownst to anyone else, Edward is listening to Eliza's predictions of his character and his mistress's blandishments of said character. He is quite livid when his mistress refuses to accompany him on his trip on the advice of the astrologer. Thinking to teach Eliza a lesson not to interfere where she doesn't belong, Edward abducts her off the street and informs Eliza that she must now take the place of his mistress.
With no money, and nowhere to go Eliza agrees, and so begins a farce to end all farces. Eliza is not a young, starry-eyed miss, she is a spinster who, having spent a lifetime studying astrology,knows what people are capable of. Eliza bargains with Edward for a few simple things before they commence and Edward is so stunned that he quickly agrees. Edward is not the rake everyone believes him to be as he cannot take Eliza's virginity and he sets her free. Eliza is not so easily dissuaded so instead, and for reasons of her own, she agrees to pretend to be Edward's mistress.
Edward's astrological chart shows that he is a fine actor and loves to play a part, and the part he is playing now will make his mother furious. His part is that of the most dissolute rake of them all, one who would not only bring his mistress to his mother's house, but also his father's former mistress. Eliza is a gently brought up young lady and her manners often give her away despite all her attempts to the contrary. Per the terms of his older brother's will, Edward and his mother must spend two weeks together in the same house or she will lose her house in Brighton. The only problem is that Edward and his mother loathe one another, and he will do anything to make his mother uncomfortable, hence the pretend mistress. Edward doesn't count on his mother being as ruthless as he himself and Eliza gets caught in the middle of their war. It's not pretty.
Jenny Brown has written a truly wonderful story in Lord Lightning about the power of love to turn a cold heart into something worth fighting for. As the spare, Edward received no affection from either of his parents, or his older brother as he grew up. In fact, he still carries the scars on his back from the many times his mother punished him with a rod. Throughout the book Edwards refers to himself as “Black Neville's son and James's brother”, as if he has no identify of his own and only exists as an extension of them, as a damned man. It is only through Eliza's constancy that he is able to become an individual in his own right.
The life-long enmity between Edward and his mother was, I thought, resolved rather quickly at the end of the book. It flowed well and it seemed right within the scope of the story, but his mother was such a bloody bitch that I hated her and I wanted her to suffer everything she had made Edward suffer…that is right up until the very end. Ms. Brown made me feel empathy for a hated character and that is the hallmark of a great author.
The astrological information was interesting to me and I really wanted to understand it, unfortunately it went completely over my head even after reading the author's blog. I don't know where Jenny Brown is going to take readers next but, I can't wait to find out. Lord Lightning is a definite must read. Don't miss it.
Reviewed by: Valarie Pelissero