The Elusive Miss Wakefield follows a love story that revolves around an initial deception—where, in fulfilling a promise to her dying brother, Charlotte Morton, takes on the identity of another woman. Threaded within this story are more sinister themes of violence, murder, embezzlement, and a scheme to displace the rightful heirs to a large estate. The opening chapter involves a reluctant seduction which has ramifications throughout the entire story.
This story is set in London, England. It begins in 1800 and rapidly moves along to the year 1820. The death of Charlotte’s twin brother, Oliver, presented her with a tragic and difficult dilemma. Before he died, he made her promise that she would look after and provide protection to Georgiana Stavely, Oliver’s secret wife, and the child she would eventually bear. She had never met the young woman and knew little of the family. She had to take on the identity of another in order not to be recognized as Oliver’s sister, with all of the subsequent difficulties that such a deception caused for her and for others.
When Georgiana’s own brother, Henry, appeared on the scene late one night, the initial gentle deception soon grew into much more than she could easily handle. The circumstance rapidly went beyond her control when Georgiana died giving birth, leaving her to look after the baby, and to deal with Henry. With all that was unexpectedly happening around her, she knew that she had to take the baby with her and escape the suddenly impossible situation she was caught up in before her deception and other elements of her past caught up with her. So much to hide, and yet so much to hope for. Henry would eventually find her, but what then?
In The Elusive Miss Wakefield, Sutherland captures some of the complex realities of human existence, the intricacies of relationships, the power and consequences of deception, and the difficulties of keeping a promise.