In my latest Regency romantic suspense, The Earl Claims His Comfort, my main character, Levison Davids, the 17th Earl of Remmington, has been summoned home from his assignment for the Home Office upon the Continent to assume the guardianship of a child everyone believes to be his, but he adamantly denies siring.
So, who or what determined whether a person was a fit guardian? Guardianship during the Regency era held its strictures. For example, guardianship was not hereditary. If a guardian dies, someone had to apply to the Court in Chancery to be appointed the minor child’s next guardian. All children over the age of 14 had a right to suggest the person he or she wanted as guardian. Quite often two or three guardians were named in case one of them died before the child reached his/her majority. At one time, the guardians were the child’s godparents—2 males and 1 female for a male child and 2 females and 1 male for a female. The mother and her brother were often named. However, the mother lost her rights as guardian if she remarried.
Minor children, especially girls, were customarily left to the joint guardianship of the child’s mother and a specifically-named male, a brother, cousin, etc. The mother would make the ordinary decisions about the child(ren), but the male would deal with money, any lawsuits, or business matters. Usually, the male was happy enough to leave the upbringing of the girls to the mother unless the lady was considered immoral or otherwise a bad example for the child.
If he took offense against the mother’s character, it would be necessary for her to plead her case before the Chancery court, where there was no knowing how the judge would rule. Women held so little power in the Regency, the court could choose to strip her of her children based only upon the word of a “so-called gentleman.”
Generally, the heir of the deceased would assume the guardianship without any legal appointment if the original guardian died. However, if any of the children have money settled upon them through wills and marriage settlements, or if they are entitled to peerage, entailed land or unentailed land, the one (customarily a solicitor) in charge of the money held for the child was not to give it to any except official guardians.
As to access to the minor’s funds, the guardians could have access, especially if a separate trustee had not been appointed to deal with the money. The trustees for settled land/property were different from those for money or a trust fund. It was possible for a ward to sue his/her guardians if they discovered, upon reaching his/her majority, that the guardian squandered away the child’s inheritance. Often the ward won the case. A well drawn up will set up for guardianship would make it difficult for the guardian to misuse the funds.
Often we see stories where a young man, usually holding a peerage, “inherits” a young woman as his ward. In reality, this would not happen unless the father specifically named the man as the young lady’s future guardian in his will or, at a minimum, named a second guardian to assist the gentleman in the woman’s care.
An exception to this is that a peer has the right to be guardian over his heir apparent or heir presumptive if no other guardian is named for the child—but this situation does not apply to his siblings.
The guardian had to be at least 21 years old. If the named guardian died before the father, the father could name another or the mother would be considered the natural guardian as long as she did not remarry.
However, none of these scenarios apply to my character, for he is not the child’s legal guardian. Once the girl’s legal father has his heir to the barony, he sends his first born child away, for Lord Kavanagh purposely married Miss Delia Phillips for a substantial payment from her parents, even though Kavanagh knew Miss Phillips was with child.
As in the case of Lord Remmington, an unofficial guardian cannot legally give permission for a minor to marry by license. Neither can an unofficial guardian force his/her ward to marry nor can he act in a lawsuit as the guardian. If a lawsuit is necessary, he can only act as a “friend” to the minor. It is all quite convoluted.
Introducing The Earl Claims His Comfort: Book 2 of the Twins’ Trilogy (releasing September 16, 2017, from Black Opal Books) ~ Finalist for the 2016 Hot Prospects Award
Hurrying home to Tegen Castle from the Continent to assume guardianship of a child not his, but one who holds his countenance, Levison Davids, Earl of Remmington, is shot and left to die upon the road leading to his manor house. The incident has Remmington chasing after a man who remains one step ahead and who claims a distinct similarity—a man who wishes to replace Remmington as the rightful earl. Rem must solve the mystery of how Frederick Troutman’s life parallels his while protecting his title, the child, and the woman he loves.
Comfort Neville has escorted Deirdre Kavanaugh from Ireland to England, in hopes that the Earl of Remmington will prove a better guardian for the girl than did the child’s father. When she discovers the earl’s body upon road backing the castle, it is she who nurses him to health. As the daughter of a minor son of an Irish baron, Comfort is impossibly removed from the earl’s sphere, but the man claims her affections. She will do anything for him, including confronting his enemies. When she is kidnapped as part of a plot for revenge against the earl, she must protect Rem’s life, while guarding her heart.
Excerpt from Chapter 2…
Rem would have preferred to scramble to his feet and turn the blasted woman over his knee to exact his revenge, but today was not a “scrambling” kind of day. Today was a roll-onto-one’s-side-and-bite-one’s-tongue to disguise the pain type of day.
“Ma’am,” he heard the marquess say with kindness, “perhaps you should assist the young miss with his lordship’s horse. Draco is remarkably strong, and such a pretty miss should not muddy her dress in an attempt to hold the animal. I will assist the—”
“Marquess,” Rem groaned. For some reason Rem did not want the woman to know his identity. It was more than his angry response to an innocent. He did not know who wanted him dead. The woman was a stranger, and she would not be the first female who had practiced a deceit against him.
“Yes, the Marquess of Malvern,” Huntington McLaughlin said in what sounded of confusion.
Rem remained curled in a tight ball as the marquess approached. McLaughlin knelt beside him and gently rolled Rem to his back. “Where are you injured?” he asked in quiet tones.
Rem draped an arm across his eyes, not wishing to observe the sympathy on the marquess’ features. More than a year prior, he had wished Malvern to the devil when Rem had received word that Miss Angelica Lovelace had accepted Malvern’s proposal. Now Fate meant to throw him and his former friend together again.
“Cut on the back of my head.” He repeated the litany of aches and pains. “More bruised pride than for which I care to account. Loss of blood. There’s a bullet in my upper thigh.”
Malvern growled, “Dear Lord, Rem, why did you not say so previously? I will ride to the castle to summon a surgeon.”
Rem lowered his arm to catch Malvern’s shoulder. “I told the woman I wanted no surgeon. Someone shot me less than a quarter mile from the threshold of my manor house. I do not know whom I can trust. You can remove the bullet.”
Malvern grinned sheepishly. “How do you know you can trust me?”
Rem presented the marquess a hard stare. “I have known your betrayal previously, and I survived. You already have Miss Lovelace to wife, and you are the heir to the Duke of Devilfoard. I own nothing of interest to invite your dishonesty.”
Malvern’s frown lines deepened. “One day soon you must agree to listen to my explanation. I promised the marchioness I would speak to you as I should have done long ago.”
Rem did not wish to hear the marquess’s apology. There was nothing the words could change. Marriage was forever. “Not today. I am too weak to stomach your portion of humble pie.”
“As you wish, but know this chasm between us will be closed whether you care for the return of our association or not.” Malvern braced Rem to a seated position before wrapping one of Rem’s arms about the marquess’ shoulders to heft Rem to his feet. “Steady now,” Malvern cautioned.
Rem gritted his teeth. As they took short, stumbling steps toward where the woman waited with his horse, Rem hissed from the corner of his mouth, “Do you know her identity?”
“Mrs. Stoddard explained that the woman and the child were the reason your housekeeper sent for you.” Malvern spoke in tones so soft Rem had to listen with care to hear his former friend. “The child is Miss Phillips’s daughter,” the marquess shared.
Rem halted their progress. “That explains why the girl appeared so familiar.” He scowled his disapproval. “Though for a moment I thought that God changed all his angels to childlike forms. Why is the girl in the neighborhood? Is Lady Kavanagh’s father not at Phillips Hall?”
Malvern tightened his hold on Rem before responding. “From Mrs. Stoddard I learned that Phillips Hall was not Phillips’s primary seat, nor was it entailed upon the title. Viscount Phillips disposed of it recently to a Mr. Haughton.”
“Then who tends the child?” Rem asked suspiciously.
Malvern nodded toward where the pair waited. “Kavanagh employed the woman to escort the child to York, not to Phillips Hall, but rather to Tegen Castle.”
Rem’s reasoning was not so sharp as customary. He missed a few details in Malvern’s explanation. “Why here? Was Kavanagh aware of Phillips’s exit from the neighborhood? You said the land purchase was a recent one.”
“By recent, I mean some time after Miss Phillips married her Irish baron. It is my understanding that Kavanagh disowned the child after Lady Kavanagh’s passing. The baron instructed the woman who came to your aid to deliver Miss Deirdre to her real father.”
It took an extra heartbeat for Rem to understand the marquess’ words. “Oh hell, no,” Rem declared vehemently. “I was in Spain when Delia conceived her first born.”
“Keep your voice down,” Malvern cautioned. “It is not the child’s fault her legal father is a prig. Kavanagh has his heir so the baron has no more need of Lady Kavanahg or the child. With his wife’s demise, after a reasonable time, he can remarry and produce a brood of little Irish babes.” The marquess paused dramatically. “According to your housekeeper, Miss Deirdre possesses your eyes, Remmington.”
Rem turned his head to disguise his ire from the watchful eye of the ladies. “I do not care what shade the child’s eyes claim. Although I dreamed often of bedding the girl’s mother, a woman to whom I was promised, I was up to my ears in Froggies when Miss Phillips permitted another what she promised me.”
Also check out Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep: Book 1 of the Twins’ Trilogy ~ from Black Opal Books ~ Finalist for Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Awards for Historical Romance; 2017 Finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense in Historicals
Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, being tended by an ethereal “angel,” who claims to be his wife. However, reality is often deceptive, and Angelica Lovelace is far from innocent in Hunt’s difficulties. Yet, there is something about the woman that calls to him as no other ever has. When she attends his mother’s annual summer house party, their lives are intertwined in a series of mistaken identities, assaults, kidnappings, overlapping relations, and murders, which will either bring them together forever or tear them irretrievably apart. As Hunt attempts to right his world from problems caused by the head injury that has robbed him of parts of his memory, his best friend, the Earl of Remmington, makes it clear that he intends to claim Angelica as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit her to align herself with the earldom or claim the only woman who stirs his heart–and if he does the latter, can he still serve the dukedom with a hoydenish American heiress at his side?
Now, for the Giveaway. I have an Amazon eBook copy of The Earl Claims His Comfort: Book 2 of the Twins’ Trilogy to those who comment below. The giveaway will end at midnight EDST on Thursday, September 21.