I don't know what I expected when I first picked this book, certainly not how much I'd enjoy it. This isn't exactly a romance book, per se. Don't get me wrong, there's a romantic twist in it but not the kind you'd find in a regular romance novel.
I'm a bit confused as to who was supposed to be the main character, because at first it seemed Annie would be. Why wouldn't she? She's always wondered who's her dad and why her mom is always secretive about it. Then during an unexpected trip to Banbury she has the chance to learn about her mom's past, and how she and her mom ended up where they are.
It is then that Gladys Deacon comes into the picture and everything is like, "Forget about Annie, I like this old 90-year old lady better." Gladys Deacon holds the story together from the second chapter and forward.
Slowly, Annie discovers how Pru (Gladys' companion) and Win (an Earl who wants to be a writer) came to meet and live with Gladys, who refuses to admit she's the lost Duchess of Marlborough, and insists they call her Mrs. Spencer.
Gladys is a force to reckon with. She waves her pistol to scare people away from The Grange, her depilatory home. She assures everyone her help, Tom, lives in the barn but no one ever sees him so everyone thinks he doesn't exist but it turns out he does exist.
Gladys is seen as a menace in the small town, and she relishes it. She runs into town with her top off or naked, people are scandalized and she shrugs it off like its normal.
I laughed so hard with her antics, I kid you not. There's no better way to describe her other than "unique." She was friends with every famous person of her time and would call people of their bluff.
I loved how she gave Win and Pru the round 'bout her true identity. THAT made the story.
As for Annie, I didn't care much for her. She got on my nerves with how she demanded her mom tell her the true. I don't know. She came across almost like a whiny teenager to the point I was annoyed by her attitude. Or it could be I just wanted to know more about Glady aka Mrs. Spencer, the Duchess.
I loved this story. It's full of laughs, filled with quite a bit of true historical facts. A perfect beach read if you ask me.