The lives of the other half, those who live below-stairs in this case, are the focus of Elizabeth Anthony’s masterful work All I Want Is You. A refreshing departure from the myriad of Regency novels available. Sophie is the only child of a beautiful former servant of Belfield Hall. After the heir to the dukedom tires of her and her husband leaves for The Great War, Sophie’s mother supports them by taking in laundry. Her beauty and health are a thing of the past and when she collapses Sophie can find no one to help them. Finally one man stops but it is too late for her mother, mysteriously connected to Belfield Hall he arranges for a position Sophie.
Seventeen-year-old Sophie is a scullery maid at a large country house, Belfield Hall, but what she truly desires is to dance on stage in London.
Glamorous Lady Beatrice offers her assistance, though not without an ulterior motive. A new heir – the seductively handsome Lord Ashley – is about to arrive at the Hall: a man that Beatrice will do anything to ensnare…even if she has to exploit her young maid.
What she doesn’t know is that Sophie has met Ash once before. And as Lady Beatrice’s devious plan unravels, Sophie has two choices: refuse to be a mere plaything for the man she loves so desperately, or give in to the thrill of unimaginable sexual pleasure…
Elizabeth Anthony has made, in my opinion, a significant achievement, what seems effortlessly, to create a vulnerable, yet appealing character in Sophie. So often characters in Sophie’s place come across as whiny or needy and unfortunately quite pathetic. Anthony’s superior characterization elevates this work above much of the comparable fiction in this genre. Lady Beatrice is darkly beautiful, malevolently self interested in a single goal.
To those put off by the classification of this work as erotica, don’t be. There are a number of very explicit sex scenes but unlike many works where the plot is an afterthought or set up as a framework for gratuitous acts of sexual deviance the incidents in this story are pertinent to the plot. Above all All I Want Is You is a beautiful story of an impossible love during a time of great change in history.
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Anthony
RATING: 4 Stars
GENRE: Historical Romance/Erotica
Disclaimer: ARC was kindly provided by the publisher for an honest review.