John Hendricks was Lord Folbroke's secretary in the previous book, who became infatuated with the wife of his employer. He had no expectations of her, just secret hopes…hopes that she dashed by remaining with her husband. At the end of that book John quits his job and at the start of Lady Drusilla's Road to Ruin, John is thoroughly foxed and on the wrong stagecoach. Instead of heading to Ornkey to drown himself in the North Sea, he is headed to Gretna Green with Lady Drusilla and an obnoxious merchant.
Dru is chasing after her flighty younger sister who has eloped with the dancing master. When the obnoxious merchant's advances become too much, Dru forcibly enlists John's aid by claiming his as her brother.
John does come to her aid and eventually is employed by Dru. Their journey is filled with lots of cold rain and mud, two horses for them, and leather breeches for her. When he is robbed by the merchant, they in turn rob one of her sister's obnoxious, fast friends. John leaves that lady with a kiss and is nearly ravished on the road.
Over the course of the three days it takes to catch up to the fleeing couple, John falls head over heels in love with Dru, all the while thinking that she is in love with the man who ran off with her sister. Dru has also fallen in love with John, never daring to dream that he would prefer her over her beautiful, vivacious sister. After all, no man ever has. Dru has been put on the shelf by her father, and given the moniker “Silly,” and forced to become her sister's chaperone. She never once dreams of happiness for herself until she meets John. When her family called her by her nickname “Silly” it wasn't because she was flighty or shallow or silly, it was them putting her down for accepting the role they had given her, and it was John who gave her the strength to break those chains.
Lady Drusilla's Road to Ruin is another keeper by Christine Merrill. I liked John Hendricks in his employer's book but, I loved him in his own. The last time he dared to dream above his station he was summarily put in his place. Does he dare dream again with Dru? I loved how they each saw in the other only the best. They did not have an easy time coming to their HEA - they had to fight her father for it - but it made the story that much better.
All of Christine Merrill's books have earned a place on my keeper shelves with their humor, believable situations and characters, and Lady Drusilla's Road to Ruin joins that list. It does stand very well on its own, but is that much richer having read Lady Folbroke's Delicious Deception first.
Reviewed by: Valarie Pelissero