Judith is searching for a book. I think most of the internet might be searching for a book, but the reputation of the Bitchery in discovering the lost bookage, it is known far and wide. This one wasn’t necessarily a romance, but a historical novel from the late 80’s or early 90’s.
Remember: anyone who guesses it in the first comment gets a Smart Bitch Title™.
1. Near-destitute heroine travels by boat from Ireland to England with her illegitimate baby and a devoted servant girl, looking for a better life, ends up working in a tavern serving ale, agrees to an afternoon quickie with the hero to keep her job (he’s the owner?) but once the deed is done he insults her sexual skills and hands her a muddy dog as a present, ruining her dress just as she’s due to start her shift. And the dog is just another mouth to feed.
2. They negotiate an agreement for her to become his mistress while standing on a deserted road in the bitter cold winter. He drives up in his carriage as she’s walking along. He hops down and wraps his coat around her as he hugs her to him, asking what she wants. She surprises him by asking for funds to start her own business. He agrees. After he and his warm coat drive off, she’s back to freezing her ass off but she’s happy and glowing with ambition.
3. She becomes a successful shop owner (dresses?), through the years they periodically live together but have their own interests, she has his child, he advises her on business matters, they’re friends and companions, but love is never mentioned.
4. At the end of the story, as they are walking together one evening, he is taunted and severely beaten by thugs hired by some of his business rivals, right in front of her. She manages to drag him back to his house, half dead, where he turns on her, looks at her with hatred and orders his servants to throw her out. It’s a shocking scene. They end up reconciled when he gets over his shame that she witnessed his utter humiliation.
This guy sounds like a real peach. Anyone remember this book?