I actually paid cash money for this audiobook ($1.95 on iTunes).
Spoilers, but really there are no surprises here.
Bella (another Bella in a vampire story!) Rolleston is just poor girl, she needs your sympathy. She’s looking for a job as a companion to help her Mama pay the rent. Her only option is to pay an employment agency to find her some work. Although the Superior Person at the office takes her money, she informs Miss Rolleston that finding her a job will be near impossible since she has no skills. Bella, ever optimistic, hoofs it to the agency every week in hopes that someone will give her a job.
Being at the right place at the right time pays off, when she happens to be at the agency upon the arrival of Good Lady Ducayne. The old lady takes on Bella immediately, despite her lack of accomplishments. Like an employment ad on Kijiji, if it’s too good to be true it probably is. Bella fails to see the red flags. Old Lady Ducayne wants to take her to Italy (red flag). She asks the following, “Have you good health? Are you strong and active, able to eat well, sleep well, walk well, able to enjoy all that there is good in life?” (Red Flag). She needs a healthy girl because all her other companions became too ill and had to leave her employment (RED FLAG).
In Italy, everything is fine until Bella starts feeling tired. She’s having strange dreams and has mysterious cuts on her arms. Lady Ducayne’s Italian doctor tells her those are mosquito bites. Yeah, that’s it, mosquito bites. What kind of crazy-ass Italian mosquitos leave bites that look like cuts? Bella buys this hook, line, and sinker. I began to question this girl’s intelligence. She’s like that girl in Mean Girls with the psychic boobs.
Oh and then she learns that no one knows how old Lady Ducayne is. She could be over a hundred. And by the way, all her former companions didn’t just get sick: THEY DIED. (RED FLAG!!!!! GET OUT NOW, GIRL!!!!)
Bella doesn’t get on the first coach to Splitsville because the money is good and Mama doesn’t have to knit mantles or whatever it is she does anymore. Plus, Lady Ducayne is sooooo easy to work for!
Eventually, Bella is rescued by a young English doctor because, surprise, Lady Ducayne has been syphoning off Bella’s plasma to keep her alive.
This isn’t a very scary story, really. Lady Ducayne doesn’t turn into a bat or a wolf or anything. She’s just using questionable scientific methods to stay alive indefinitely. The deaths of all those girls was just collateral damage. It’s a trope of the sensation novel that the Italian doctor, or count, or French maid is totally evil. Obviously Bella hasn’t been reading Wilkie Collins or she’d know this. Poor, stupid Bella needs a man to get her out of this one because she is too dumb to realize she’s in trouble. No one ever tells her what was really going on.
Even though I found Bella too stupid to live, I did love that she didn’t just sit around waiting for her luck to change. She went out and tried to take charge of her own destiny. I had to admire her for that. It was a short one too so I didn’t have to put up with her for long.
About the Audio: Good Lady Ducayne by Mary Elizabeth Braddon was narrated by Anne Rosenfeld and she did an excellent job. It was very entertaining and over the top. This audiobook is just over an hour.