My rating: 4 of 5 stars
What are you looking for? Bodice Rippers ala Julia Quinn and Eloise James? I appreciate that they are splendid authors but this book is not exactly like theirs. It wont fulfil your craving for light, hot and sexy. You might still enjoy this book though there is no sex, very little kissing and no secret trysts or scandals to speak of.
But are you craving the lost Heyer touch? (I love Jane Austen, but Georgette Heyer had published many more stories and almost all of them were funny and light and addressed my need for regency era fiction exactly – so I miss her style more, now that I have gone through them all).
Carla Kelly wrote and published this in 1995. That was a good decade for historical romances. The authors often wrote surprisingly incisive stories that were somehow lost in a heap of public demand fueled publishing. There’s Paula Marshall – another author of that time who deserves some deep appreciation she never got.
Anyway, so given the period of its publication the author was under no pressure to deliver titillating stories of improbable pre-marital unions and scandals in a time of ‘proper conduct’ that made reading the sex scenes seem some how excitingly taboo.
So she wrote a story about a man who had sunk very low in his own estimations, who had lost his drive to inhabit a world full of purpose and couldn’t find the energy to reform himself. He wanted to, but he felt too lazy, too bored.
She also wrote about a woman of determined and pragmatic soul who saw him at his worst and slowly led him to his best. She started out his reformation in a maneuver that would free her from a deep obligation (not to mention an indenture) but in the end he changed her too.
It is not just the story but how it is written. I would have felt only a passing sympathy for Lord Ragsdale and forgotten the character in a few days completely had the author not begun the story with his voice while he was still steeped in the worst excesses. That voice told me that he knew exactly how far he had fallen and showed me his slow helpless terror at the knowledge as he went about living his days in a monotonous haze of liquor, gambling and the boudoir.
I read a review that complained of the lack of emotions displayed by Emma, the heroine. That she was too practical, too cold.
Ah gods. She could not have been written in any other way. She was NOT cold or unemotional, but what she had survived was too much. If she allowed herself to fall, to cry, to confide, she would no longer be able to stand tall the next day and be impertinent in the face of Ragsdale’s annoyed grumpiness, would no longer be able to laugh.
Or so she believed.
I loved this book. I rarely buy books I can just borrow, but this one’s definitely a keeper for me. I’m even putting it up on my Regency Wonderfuls Shelf in goodreads. 🙂
- Visit With Carla Kelly,author of Marian’s Christmas Wish…. (mybookaddictionandmore.com)
- Fan2Author Interview with…Carla Kelly (bookworm2bookworm.wordpress.com)
- Before the Season Ends (A review) OR how the author’s determination to preach Christian superiority killed a good book for me (caughtinabook.wordpress.com)
- Georgette Heyer: Biography of a Bestseller by Jennifer Kloester (guardian.co.uk)