by Sarah M. Eden
Covenant Communications, Inc., 2011
Reviewed from purchased copy.
The Duke of Kielder has more influence than Parliament, higher social standing than the Royal Family. No gentleman dares face him on the dueling field, nor risks testing his infamous temper. But His Grace is in need of a wife. Combine his fearsome reputation with a terribly scarred countenance and finding a lady willing to accept his hand becomes all-but impossible. When the Duke manages to secure a bride through a bit of trickery and an obscene amount of money, he is certain his problems are behind him. Except his purchased bride proves to be nothing like he expected. What is a man like the Duke to do with a bride who is gentle, loving and absolutely impossible to live without?
This story contains elements of Beauty and the Beast except that Persephone isn't a beauty and the Duke is not really a beast. Although most who know the Duke consider him a 'beast' in terms of behavior and his tendency to bury himself at his estate. Few are willing to enter his domain, but Persephone must to save her family from poverty. She greatly fears that she has little chance of happiness in the cold and cheerless environment in which she finds herself. But slowly she starts to see that there is more to her new husband than she or anyone else ever dreamed.
The author provides the reader with a tender love story with fairy tale elements as well as Greek mythology woven in beautifully. Yet the story felt fresh and new to me. I enjoyed watching Persephone grow in courage while the Duke begins to learn about love. Harry, the Duke's best (and only) friend provides a nice foil for the grumpy, intimidating Duke, by being a delightful pest. I admired the way the author slowly reveled elements about all the different characters as a natural part of the story, allowing the reader to slowly develop understanding about each one.
The setting is beautifully presented in all it's glory, cold and intimidating, with wild wolves roaming the surrounding countryside. The vast estate demonstrates very quickly just how wealthy the Duke really is and the care that he has taken in managing his estates. The remoteness of Falstone Castle also represents beautifully the distance between the Duke and the Duchess.
Plotwise, the story isn't unique, but so delightfully presented, and showing so clearly the intricacies of human communication. I think that the thing I love most about this book easy it is to give the wrong impression and the importance of persistence, and the power of love.
COURTING MISS LANCASTER
by Sarah M. Eden
Covenant Communications, Inc., 2010
Reviewed from purchased copy.
Harry Windower adores blonde, green-eyes Athena Lancaster, but alas, a penniless man like himself has no hope of winning a young noblewoman's hand. To add insult to injury, Athena's brother-in-law and guardian, the Duke of Kielder, has asked Harry to assist Athena in finding a gentleman of her dreams. But the lovesick Harry is cunning as well: as the weeks pass, he introduces Athena to suitors who are horrifically boring, alarmingly attached to their mothers, downright rude, astoundingly self-absorbed, and utterly ridiculous. Athena can't comprehend why she is having so little success meeting eligible and acceptable gentlemen. Indeed, her circle of admirers couldn't be be less admirable - nothing like the loyal, gentle friend she's found in Harry. But how long can Harry's scheme be hidden before it is discovered? And what will Athena do when she uncovers Harry's deception? Escape into a charming regency world in this delightfully romantic comedy of manners that will entertain you to the very last word.
This story follows the Duke of Kielder and his wife Persephone escorting Persephone's younger sister, Athena, on her come out in London. The Duke has asked his friend, Harry, to help introduce Athena around, hopefully allowing her to find a husband in the process. There's only one problem. Harry is in love with Athena himself. Desperate and knowing that he himself cannot court her, Harry introduces Athena to some of the most obnoxious men on the market. But how long can such a strategy be maintained? and when his actions become known will he be able to live with the consequences?
Characters: Harry and Athena make a cute couple and I spent much of the book wanting to point out to Athena that she's already found a worthy gentleman. As in real life though sometimes the hardest things to see are the ones right in front of us. My heart went out to Harry who struggled to find a way to keep his promise to his friend and yet deal with his own overwhelming emotions. I was also thrilled to meet up again with the Duke and his wife (the main characters from Eden's Seeking Persephone).
Setting: For whatever reason I love romances set in the Victorian Era (clean ones). Maybe it's because I love Jane Austen's work. Anyway, while I enjoy reading about 'come outs' and 'visiting' and 'Almacks' I really wouldn't want to live at that time. I would much prefer to stay home and read about it. I enjoy reading the descriptions and settings of the various places that Athena and Harry visit in London.
Plot: I think what I found so refreshing about this book was that it was the man who struggled with his feelings of 'unrequited' love. So often in this type of story it's the woman who faces the loss of all her hopes. Although I have to say my favorite part in this book is where Harry and the Duke deal with a supposed gentleman with a too sharp tongue who unwisely insults Persephone. Classic and very entertaining.