Wednesday, April 16, 2008

TBR Day: My Lord Monleigh, Jan Cox Speas

Title: My Lord Monleigh
Author: Jan Cox Speas
Published: 1956, Avon
Category: Historical Romance
Rating: 7.5/10

TBR Wednesday! See AvidReader to join the fun.

I've been meaning to read this book since I read Speas' Bride of the MacHugh and loved it. I needed a guaranteed good read for the longest plane ride ever (okay, not really, but the longest plane ride I've ever been on), so I finally got around to it.

My Lord Monleigh is set in Scotland during the mid-17th century. My English history is a bit shaky, but this is the time when Cromwell was in control of the government and radical puritanism was the order of the day. Anne Lindsey is a poor relation who is forced to live with Margaret Clennon and her brother Walter, a pair of withered and strait-laced religious zealots. Anne is in the unenviable position of being almost a servant, forced to cater to petulant Margaret's every demand. One day she escapes and wanders into the Scottish countryside and meets Simon, the earl of Monleigh. Simon is notoriously wicked--he's a royalist, he plays the lute, he (gasp!) knows how to have a good time. Anne has been forced by her hard life to take her security where she can get it, but now she's tempted to throw her lot in with this rebel.

This was lovely. Very good historical detail and a very mature love story. Anne and Simon have a lot of fantastic dialogue--really smart and at times very funny. Anne is no young miss, discovering that love solves all her problems. Realistically, it changes her outlook on life, but at the same time disrupts her precariously peaceful existence. She must make some tough decisions, and she makes them all on her own.

The ending is just great. The first chapter is Anne finding out that Monleigh has been sentenced to hang for treason, and the majority of the rest of the book is done in a flashback. So there's lots of star-crossed lovers, how-is-it-going-to-work-out tension throughout the book. I loved the way it all came out in the end.


Keishon E. said...

You know, another reader raved about her books. I have one in my TBR pile somewhere. I need to find them. She has three or four, I think. Thanks Jennie!


ReneeW said...

Oh, yes! I love Speas and have been trying to locate and re-read her books but I haven't been able to find this one. Very HTF. I love this time period and your review really makes me want to find it.

sandy l said...

I have all three of the Speas books. They are all wonderful. I just wish someone would reprint them. I'm afraid to read my copies in case they fall apart.

Jennie said...

Keishon--I've really liked the two I've read. Thanks for putting together TBR day--it's good for me. ;)

Renee--I was really lucky to find this one used. It's too bad they're so long out of print.

Sandy--I'll have to see if I can find her other book. The two I have are mass markets that are getting a little crumbly too. Have to be very careful with them. :)

Kristie (J) said...

LOL - I think you win the prize for the oldest book!!! I didn't even know Avon was publishing way back then!!

Jennie said...

Kristie--Actually, that publication info I gave is a little misleading. My copy is an Avon edition from the '70s -- but the copyright date is from 1956. It must have been published by someone else first. :)

But yes, I think I did do the oldest book. I should get some sort of prize for that. ;)

dsearls said...

I knew Jan Cox Speas back in the late '60s, when I was a student at Guilford College and Jan taught creative writing there. I wrote this piece mentioning her yesterday, and this morning decided to look her up on Google. That led me here. I never took a class from her, but she enjoyed hanging out with students, and had a fun personality. A shame she died so young. (Just two years after I graduated.)

Karla said...

I'm reading this now and found your blog post while doing a search for it. It was originally published by Avon in the 50s. They had lots of great pulpy covers back then. I'm dying to know what the original cover was. Haven't been able to find it anywhere.