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Genre: Historical/Victorian times
My Rating: 3 stars
Part of a series: Elusive Lords, book 3
In February we have to look for a book that was recommended to us. I thought this topic was going to be difficult, as I don’t usually follow recommendations of others. But while browsing in my digital TBR pile, I found this story and I remembered that it got there precisely because someone told me it could interest me.
It was in my TBR pile because of, obviously, a recommendation that in itself is a kind of spoiler, so there it goes *Spoiler alert*, it was recommended to me because I liked ‘Talk Sweetly to Me’, by Courtney Milan.*End of Spoiler*.
The main characters are Alex and Charlotte. Both of them young, handsome, and from good families, although Charlotte was born on the wrong side of the sheets. They fall head over heels. They were so passionate that had sex before the wedding, but who cares? They were going to be wed soon and they just couldn’t help it.
But when the wedding day came, in St Paul’s catedral nonetheless and the bride did not appear. She sent a letter instead, but without real explanation. That’s when the story starts.
Fast forward five years. Alex has had a bad time drinking to much, but now he’s recovered and thinking about marrying someone else. He’s now the heir of a dukedom and he feels he must produce an heir. He knows nothing of Charlotte’s whereabouts.
That’s when Charlotte appears. She, and a child who looks exactly as the late Alex’s brother –the former heir to the dukedom- to play havoc with Alex’s newfound tranquillity and plans for his life. Why did she go away? Who’s the father of her child? Can they have a second chance in love? Her feelings are clear –she still loves Alex with all her heart and body. But he had a terrible time, she broke his heart and he cannot forgive and forget easily. He wouldn’t be a real human being otherwise, and Alex is very human.
In this story we can find something very close to the Big Mis. The reason Charlotte went away is not a stupid one, but she could have told Alex and decide, together, what was to be done. In the end, she didn’t trust his feelings, she was afraid his love was not strong enough.
Apart from the Big Secret and the Secret Baby tropes, we can find here a kind of marriage of convenience. For a while, it’s not exactly a marriage and I’m not sure if it is convenient for either Charlotte or Alex in that moment.
Too many classical tropes? Well, they worked for me in this story. Beverley Kendall makes a special effort to explain the feelings, emotions, doubts and suffering of the main characters. I think it’s more a character-driven story than a plot-driven one, the kind of story I connect very well with, provided that I like the characters. And that’s what happens here. I liked both Charlotte and Alex, I understood perfectly well why they did what they did. Alex may sound a little bit idiotic sometimes, but it doesn’t matter, because I had this feeling that that’s exactly what a man in love, whose heart has been terribly wounded, would have done in that time and age.
In a character-driven novel, as this one, it’s very easy to put the book down, so don’t expect to be so gripped by the story that you will read it in a afternoon. No, it’s one of those ‘slow readings’ that take your time and then you will keep on thinking about the characters hours or days after you read the last page. With plot-driven novels, at least for me, it’s just the opposite. For instance, with romantic suspense, I cannot stop reading until the end, but I do rarely remember the book afterwards.
This book is part of a series, but it stands alone rather well. It’s obvious that is part of a series when you find scenes with a lot of people that appear out of the blue, all happily married and with many children, and you have this eerie feeling that you have to know them or care for them, but as a matter of fact you don’t give a damn because you have’t read the previous books of the series, so their marital bliss is none of your concern. And of course, it introduces you the next book, which is the story of Charlotte’s twin sister.
Beverley Kendall is a new to me author. I’m not going to start glomming her backlist. But I think I will give a try to any other book of hers, if I see a good review of it. She writes the kind of historical romance novel that I can enjoy when it’s well done.