"Unique Regency is a definite Keeper"
I particularly liked this story because it was different
from the usual regency plots. No rake despoiling the
virginal debutant, no besotted pier mooning after a totally
unsuitable girl. This is a story of long lost love, but
unlike others of its ilk, this pair didn't waste years
pining for each other. Fabienne and Adam have lived life to
it's fullest apart and now have come full circle.
At seventeen Fabienne Argonac had been a young Frenchwoman
of noble birth who had survived the terror in France and
had just settled in England when she first met Adam
Ashworth. Fabienne was lovestruck, and although she was
aware that Adam was a rake and would soon tire of her, she
soon succumbed to his seduction. Although Adam had played
it cool, he too was bitten by the love bug, but through a
mysterious interference (revealed later in the book) both
are given to believe that the other had forsaken them.
Adam who had been betrothed at the time of the affair,
married and had done the unfashionable thing and fallen in
love with his wife. Now twenty years later he is widowed
and has settled into the quiet life of a country gentleman.
Fabienne twice widowed is likewise unattached. She lives on
the edge of the ton as a patroness of the arts whose salons
have become wildly popular. The pair meets again when
Adam's ward becomes obsessed with a young artist being
sponsored by Fabienne. He deems the relationship to be
completely unsuitable but Fabienne, still stinging from
past betrayal, vehemently defends her protégé.
Rarely alone, Fabienne is nevertheless lonely. She finds
something sympathetic in the works of a recent phenomenon,
the reclusive writer Mrs. Ravenwood. Fabienne begins a
correspondence which becomes quite intimate, and opens her
heart and painful past to the writer. Mrs. Ravenwood is so
sympathetic that Fabienne sets out to find her. The clues
lead her to the country and Adam. Assuming that her
confidant is Adam's mistress, she is crushed.
Adam who had once been a gift mathematician is actually the
infamous Mrs. Ravenwood, although he would perish before
revealing that scandalous fact. He realizes that he should
have nipped their correspondence in the bud, had in fact
tried to do so, but Fabienne's loneliness had struck a
chord in him as well. Will his charade destroy any chance
of winning back Fabienne's heart?
Fabienne has her secrets as well, and her letters to Mrs.
Ravenworth may have revealed more that she should have
shared. Who is Fabienne's mysterious protégé and who was
responsible for tearing the pair apart all those years ago?
This engrossing story had enough plot for a single title
novel and then some. The characters are real, complex, and
emotional, seasoned by living, and more than ready to give
love another chance. An excellent regency romance debut,
this one is definitely a keeper.
Reviewed by Leslie Tramposch
Posted November 5, 2006