This makes two-for-two Choc Lit Publishing books that I’ve loved! Yay!
This novel, billed as Downton Abbey-esque, begins in London in 1905. Helena is a young debutante, and what she lacks in noble blood she makes up for with her merchant father’s wealth. Her father has political aspirations and is eager for Helena to make a prosperous match. Oliver Faraday, a man with an unforgivable blond mustache, has recently inherited and wants to ensure an heir quickly so that his gambling cousin doesn’t inherit.
Helena happens to look out her window one afternoon and sees a handsome young doctor walking past. He glances up, they are instantly in love with each other, and then he walks on. Their differences in social status are too great for either of them to do anything but daydream.
The story is written in third person with multiple points of view. I found it a little confusing at first, when I thought it would just be two main characters, but then I adapted to the style. Third-party POVs didn’t drag on to become boring, they just added extra color to the scenes.
As a nod to Downton Abbey, the downstairs servants are given a fair amount of time onstage. Because I am old, I had some difficulty keeping track of the various servants. I didn’t worry about it too much, though, the author was good at giving subtle reminders. The servants didn’t have major plot lines, I felt that they were there more to give a complete picture.
The plot was not what I expected at all. First, when I connected the debutante to the doctor, I was reminded of a Sunfire romance that I read when I was 14, about a New York socialite named Emily falling in love with a poor doctor. That book was, of course, awesome, and I expected this book to follow the same star-crossed lovers plot. But it didn’t!
Second, the way Helena’s life was shown through multiple lenses gave me a sense of her character and her longing. Oh, the longing! Based upon two glances and a brief encounter on a sidewalk, Helena and the doctor crave each other, and they’re tortured with missed opportunities. It reminded me of an Edith Wharton novel. I don’t think I’ve actually read any Edith Wharton, but I’ve seen the movies. You know the part where Daniel Day-Lewis unbuttons Michelle Pfeiffer’s glove and kisses her bare wrist? And they know that’s the best they’ll ever get? That’s the tense, suppressed desire that I’m talking about.
And then! The last third gets kind of crazy but my adrenaline was pumping and I couldn’t put it down. It was a rush. The ending manages to be restrained but happy. The heat level of the whole book is low, but, you know, simmering. Oh, the simmering. Plus all the other stuff.
*ARC Provided by ChocLit
Click to purchase: Amazon
by Margaret Kaine
Release Date: October 31, 2013