Fool For Love by Eloisa James
Fool For Love
By Eloisa James
Published by Piatkus (2013)
After the passing of his father and his stepmother, London bachelor Simon Darby took over raising his two stepsisters Josie and Anabel. Josie was about five years of age while Anabel was still a baby. Due to the very large gap between his and his stepsisters’ ages, it was easy for a complete stranger to assume that Josie and Anabel were Simon’s daughters.
That was in fact what Henrietta Maclellan had in mind when she first met them. It all began when Simon went to visit his Aunt Esme in the countryside, Wiltshire, with Josie and Anabel in tow. Henrietta, the countryside lass who loved children very much, saw how little Simon knew about child-rearing and initially thought that he was such a neglectful parent.
Henrietta herself was unmarried despite her age. Her mother had died giving birth to her, and it was believed that the cause of her mother’s death was due to a deformity at her hips. As Henrietta grew, her late father and stepmother saw that she had also apparently inherited the deformity; she was lame. Since then, her mind was instilled with the notion that she should not get married because she might get pregnant and then die during childbirth as her mother had suffered. She had accepted her fate of living alone for the rest of her life, and had shown no interest in marriage or men – until Simon.
***WARNING!!! SPOILERS BEYOND THIS LINE!!!***
On the other hand, Simon, well into his thirties, had never thought about marriage or women, until Henrietta. He was desperately drawn towards her because she was different than the other women he had known in his life. And the same feeling was disturbing Henrietta, too, because apparently Simon had really shown that he wanted her. When Simon was filled in about Henrietta’s condition of not being able to give birth, he did not really mind because he was not too fond of children anyway. Henrietta then felt she wanted him, too, what with being able to raise Josie and Anabel as her own children if she married Simon.
It seemed well until Henrietta’s stepmother knew about the goings-on between Simon and Henrietta. Her stepmother was well-meaning; she did worry about Henrietta if she gets married: there must be intercourse in marriage, and with intercourse came pregnancy, and with pregnancy came the risk on Henrietta’s life. (Note: this book is set against the backdrop of the Regency era; apparently birth control techniques were scarce at the time, ditto medical knowledge regarding safe pregnancy and birthing). Henrietta’s stepmother opposed to their relationship and insisted that Simon return to London and find himself another lady.
But Simon’s Aunt Esme had other ideas. She understood how much Simon wanted Henrietta, and vice versa. She also had some knowledge on birth control techniques, which she enlightened Henrietta with in order for the latter to be convinced that she can get married without the risk of getting pregnant. Aunt Esme wanted to help the lovestruck couple.
In order to unite Simon and Henrietta without opposition from her stepmother, Aunt Esme plotted a scandal: she framed Simon as if he had compromised Henrietta in some ways. And the ruse worked: Henrietta’s stepmother was so embarrassed that her niece had been compromised that she eventually agreed that Simon must marry Henrietta immediately as the most honorable thing to do.
And so the marriage ensued. Simon got the woman he had wanted so much, and as for Henrietta, she was happy to be with Simon and also taking responsibility of raising Simon’s stepsisters. The couple had used the contraception technique recommended by Aunt Esme.
A month into the marriage, Henrietta noticed something was wrong: she was somehow getting pregnant despite using the contraception. Initially Simon and Henrietta had agreed that if she did got pregnant, she will take a draft of medicine that will immediately cease the pregnancy. But when the situation did arise - when she did got pregnant - Henrietta had refused to abort the baby. She had really loved children and could not find herself aborting her own baby.
Henrietta’s pregnancy soon caused a rift in their otherwise happy marriage. Henrietta became withdrawn and insisted that Simon take a mistress to replace her. Simon did not object to her keeping the baby, but he was upset that Henrietta had warned him against any future bedding with her. Simon was also upset that Henrietta seemed to assume that he was a man with no honour as to betray her and take a mistress.
Simon had confessed his situation to his best friend, in which the latter urged him not to lose his wife anyhow. Simon’s best friend advised him to instil within Henrietta’s mind that her deformity is not a hindrance for her future life as Simon’s wife.
It was hard to convince Henrietta, as her mind had been set along that line ever since she was a little girl. Eventually Simon persuaded Henrietta to waltz with him during a ball: Henrietta initially refused, convinced that she could not dance because she is lame. But Simon took her to the dance floor anyway, and Henrietta discovered that she was actually able to dance. Simon took the opportunity to convince Henrietta that she had listened too much to what people say that she had ignored the truth: People told her that she will never get married, but she did get married. People said she could not dance, yet she had managed to dance. And people had told her that she will never be able to give birth to a child – but who knows if she actually could?
Afterwards, Simon hired the best doctor in London to see through Henrietta’s pregnancy and birthing process. And indeed, the doctor confirmed that there was no hindrance to Henrietta being pregnant or giving birth later. Henrietta finally gave birth to a baby boy with no difficulty, much to the delight of not only Simon but also Josie and Anabel.
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