For Downton Abbey fans looking for a fix until the new season starts, try The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen. Meet Margaret Macy who learns what life is like at both ends of the staircase. Fleeing her stepfather who is trying to gain control of her money, Margaret abandons her pampered upper-class world when she is pressured to marry a man she does not love or respect. With little money, a wig and glasses for disguise, and help from her own maid, she ends up as a housemaid at Fairbourne Hall. Unfortunately, Fairbourne is owned by Nathaniel Upchurch, a gentleman who Margaret once spurned in hopes of winning his flashier brother.
Once at Fairbourne, Margaret fumbles through the first real work of her life. She learns the maid’s brushes, sweeps hearths, and empties chamber pots. She has never been so exhausted, but if she can last until her next birthday she will gain an inheritance from a spinster aunt. The money will be welcome and it will also ensure her independence. But a year is a long time and her hopes of remaining hidden seem slim with so many prying eyes visiting Fairbourne Hall. As a servant who is invisible to her employers, she is able to observe both brothers without their societal masks, and quickly realizes she may have misjudged Nathaniel. And when one of the family is nearly killed, danger threatens to upset the tranquility of the Hall.
The dynamic of the separation between the titled and serving classes adds a strong element to this Regency historical. Christy Award winner and RITA nominee Klassen delivers another perfect romance with a hint of suspense that is rich in fascinating details about life both upstairs and downstairs in a country estate.