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Title: Three Wise Monkeys
Author: Lesley-Anne McLeod

Published in September 2006 by Awe-Struck E-Books
Genre: Regency
ISBN: 1-58749-575-9


Other Books: Daughter of Trade

Twins, Susan and James Haythe with their friend Louisa Rainley are introduced to London’s ton; where they meet other marriageable ladies and gentlemen. From their stand point the coming out starts off too slow and uneventful. So, each morning Louisa, Susan and James put into action an intriguing though entertaining array of activities; leaving their chaperones horrified by their improper conduct. Yet, the young threesome learns some valuable life lessons along the way.

Staying with the Haythe’s married sister, Louisa nurtures a two year attraction for Nicholas, the Marquess of Cheriton; the twins’ older brother. Two years ago, Nicholas recuperated at Louisa’s family home from wounds gained during the Battle of Waterloo. His health much improved, he returns to the Haythe home when months later the older Marquess dies; leaving Nicholas with a title and a heavy burden of responsibilities. When Louisa attends the funeral she finds Nicholas sullen and boring. At present, she accepts an invite for dinner at Nicholas’ home, to celebrate their entrance into London’s ton, where Louisa discovers his dour features are replaced by an air of confidence and relaxation; sparking her interest once more. However, Louisa has four months to explore London so hasn’t the time for recapturing an old dalliance. Besides, Nicholas seems interested in Rebecca Valence, a woman of questionable virtue.

Nicholas considers himself too old for Louisa; he feels like fifty instead of thirty since recovering from the war and then taking over the title. He cannot help but notice the woman Louisa has become, therefore hides behind his brotherly responsibility towards her, hence putting him out of the running for her affections. Consequently, Rebecca Valence may prove a nice distraction for the next four months.

At eighteen, the Haythe twins banter and fight like they did when they were younger. Susan is forever goading her brother into deeds that lead them astray; vexing the family at their lack of propriety. However James feels the burden of growing up; Nicholas instructing him that it is his duty to see to the care and safety of all the women in the household. Therefore, since caught riding hobby horses in the park where Louisa and Susan bared some leg, their morning pleasures are confined to excursions befitting a lady.

As James, Susan and Louisa head over to Hyde Park, they encounter an organ grinder with two monkeys. They offer to buy one with Louisa putting in more so the little girl can buy a kitten. Proud owners of a pet monkey the three decide to name it Gibraltar, Gibby for short; giving it a human name so they can talk about the monkey while in the company of others. Hiding the monkey in the nursery, all three feed and care for the animal, while James teaches it to come to his whistle. Susan prods James to prove Gibby obeys him. Letting the monkey loose in Hatchard’s bookshop, Gibby takes to throwing books at passing customers, creating pandemonium. With a whistle Gibby leaps onto James’s shoulder, and then the trio exit the store, laughing. Days later Gunter’s confectionary is molested by Gibby; again James wins the dare with his sister. When the trio attend Nicholas’ ball, Gibby escapes, reeking havoc on his party and assaulting the guests. Nicholas quickly surmises who the monkey belongs to, as he watches them converge on capturing the animal; Louisa, James and Susan. Once the debauchery is over and the guests depart, Nicholas firmly admonishes the youngsters. After they leave his company he engages in a hardy laugh; something Nicholas has not done in a very long time. However, the threesomes’ exploits do not solely involve Gibby, the monkey. A week later James’ adventurous spirit costs Nicholas fifty pounds; he wanted to perform using the dancing horses at Astley’s, a circus of sorts, which causes a lot of damage in the process. Nicholas feels guilty for not considering his brother’s need for more energetic activities. So schedules him for fencing and horse riding with a trainer, but doesn’t deter more pursuits that get him into trouble. Louisa expresses an interest in attending the masquerade ball at the Argyll Rooms, where she dresses as a page and wears breeches, causing quite a stir. Not counting on Nicholas’ presence at the ball all three are discovered and taken home. A boat ride on the Thames, the trio believes an educational adventure, will be their ruin. From the onset Louisa harbors misgivings for this indulgence, and rightfully so. Susan getting seasick has them arriving home at three in the morning. Nicholas’ self control shatters…he even contemplates murdering his siblings and Louisa; only if wasn’t illegal. He sends Susan to her grandmother’s, James is to remain with him under the care of his secretary, and Louisa is to remain at his sister’s. Separating the trio opens doors to more sinister but edifying journeys. James befriends a gentleman of dubious character while Susan cultivates an interest in a reprobate. Louisa carries a secret that she will not divulge even if it would mend the upheaval between the parties involved.

Published by Awe-Struck E-Books, Three Wise Monkeys is an authentic Victorian novel complete with its distinctive language and autocratic morals of the era. The plot is natural and moves smoothly with the help of its lively characters. Louisa, James, and Susan’s daring acts of impropriety are amusing. Dubbed by their cousin “the three wise monkeys”, the trio learns about life in and around London’s high-born society. Susan, the monkey who “hears no evil” doesn’t appreciate listening to gossip born by jealousy about her beloved Donning; a self absorbed rascal. As the monkey who “sees no evil”, James cannot perceive the adventures and his choice of companions are all bad. Louisa, who “speaks no evil”, refuses to talk ill of anyone even if the information is true. A wonderful read, Ms. McLeod writes an amusing though dramatic story that follows three young people transitioning from child into adulthood.

A dedicated reader,

Pamela Jenewein

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