The French Maid - Sabrina Jeffries My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...

This short story by Sabrina Jeffries came out as a free installment with her 1st Hellions of Hallstead Hall book, The Truth About Lord Stoneville. This year, with a re-release, I thought why not read it? I’m glad that I did! This story of about 30 pages or so, is about a married couple, misunderstandings and a little clumsiness (well, Babette would say ‘lazy’ lol) from both sides about each others’ feelings.

Henry Ruskin, Lord Langston is politically quite influential. He might become the next prime minister if everything goes well. So, his life is undoubtedly packed with schedules and meetings at the House of Lords, then there’s more of this and that. He married Eleanor because of her father’s political influences. He also thought she’d be the ‘perfectly biddable English wife’- no demands, no tears, none of those clingy sorts! He seemed very oblivious about her, as I found out. I thought it was not only clumsy, it was a crime of sort. He was quite insensitive. He didn’t really think of her as a human being with needs and so on, just a wife who manages his household, attends various functions he takes her to, doing whatever it is needed to be a ‘good’ wife. In return, he doesn’t really care for her wishes and has sex with her once a week. ONCE A BLOODY WEEK AND THEY’D BEEN MARRIED FOR LIKE WHAT, A YEAR? Oh man, I know this sounds bad, it is bad actually but Henry isn’t the evil type, really. He’s not abusive or anything, just oblivious of her. And he assumes all the time, about what Eleanor’s wishes would be- just as he did about this new French ladies maid whom he hired for her without even consulting her.

Eleanor loves her husband but by now, she’s pretty sure he’s a hopeless cause. She wants to be noticed, she wants to be loved the same way and yet, he never does. And when Parliament is in session, no one dares enter his study. It’s his private sanctuary, of whom no one even has a key to. WOW, weird! And then, the connecting door to his room is also kept locked all the time (Seriously? Now that I think of it, Henry does need a spanking! :p lol). Anyway, Eleanor is the subdued sort and knows that her lack of beauty also might be the cause. This marriage was all about a sensible match but she feels nothing sensible about it anymore. I did feel for this woman, she’s smart and all but when it comes to seduction, she’s no good. So Babette comes to her as a gift of sort, when she finds her early next morning waiting for her. She gives Eleanor advices on how to look pretty and how you can make yourself look horrible just because you didn’t dress well enough etc. etc. At first, Eleanor is a bit suspicious about her because of her beauty. She feels a bit self conscious too but under Babette’s expertise, she begins to bloom.

Now, the trouble is, tomorrow is their 1st marriage anniversary and Henry, so far, hasn’t mentioned of any plan or anything else. She’s a bit down about this. I mean she’s supposed to be down, my god, I was feeling angry for her. But knowing Henry, she doubted he even remembers. I mean WTF? Anyway, Babette helps her dressing nicely, which definitely catches Henry’s eyes. Then they were off to some place. Henry thinks wow, my wife suddenly looks amazing and yet he doesn’t compliment her. Poor Eleanor feels depressed again. She thinks it’s no use on Henry. But, he amends that soon, before I took a broom and chase him with it!

At night, it’s Wednesday, their ‘give me some lovin’ day. lol Henry’s been thinking about it and now when he sees how Babette has taken care of his wife he’s awestruck. I’m not sure why he was awestruck but it was good and Henry kinda jumps on Eleanor and starts making love to her like a demented psycho! Er, well, that was kinda overboard (heehee) but he was nuts over her for sure. But the next day, Eleanor wakes up to find that Henry has closeted himself in his ‘private sanctuary’ aka his study, leaving only a terse note for her. She’s so mad and distressed (after such a night, how could he?) that she decides to leave for a few days to go to her parents’. Then comes Babette, again, with her invaluable advises. Well, I’m not going to go into anymore details but she did help them resolve this issue with some allusions to how ‘lazy’ they have been about everything and this and that and so and so which makes Henry look like a shamefaced greenboy (if that means a thing of course, don’t mind me please for I’m just down with a bad cold and not sure WTH I’m writing at the moment! :/).

4 stars because I love SJ’s writing style, as always. I’ve read other books/novellas with such premise, even then I thought it was pretty good, though I wasn’t really sure why Babette was such a prominent figure in the whole book. Guess it was because the title was about a French maid and she was one and... grr, I’m making no sense at all! Sorry about that.

The French Maid is a free novella and can be downloaded from Simon and Schuster.

BTW: The cover looks very much like Gaelen Foley’s Spice Trilogy UK edition. Hope I’m correct!