Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A Twist of Fate (book) by Susannah Carleton

Lord David Winterbrook is on his way back to his home and his young daughter when he comes across a woman having problems with her carriage. David's a gentleman, and it's cold and snowy, so he helps the woman out. It turns out that he's farther away from the nearest inn than he thought, so the woman, Madeline (Lynn) Graves, repays him by inviting him to stay at her home until it's safer to travel. Since David knew upon first seeing her that she's the woman he's meant to marry, he gladly accepts her offer. While at her home, David helps Lynn with the more physical household chores, and they slowly get to know each other better. David's first marriage was not very good - he was tricked into marriage by an already pregnant young woman, who later ran off with another man. Lynn also had not had a good first marriage - her husband beat her so badly that she now has trouble with her hearing, and her father, who had opposed the marriage, never stood up for her. David slowly wins Lynn's trust, hoping he can convince her to go with him back to his home and marry him.

This is a slow-paced Regency romance novel that gradually develops the relationship between David and Lynn. Although David's previous marriage wasn't very good, he's not scarred from it, so the only issues the couple have to deal with are Lynn's. She has to come to believe that she is worth being loved, that a man like David might actually respect her mind and her opinions, and that David would never hurt her, no matter how angry he got. Carleton also includes the minor complication of a secret - David doesn't admit to Lynn that he is Lord David Winterbrook, allowing her to believe that his social station isn't that much more different from hers.

For the most part, I enjoyed this book - I don't think I've ever read a Regency romance before, so this was a new experience. Some people might find this book boring, though. During most of it, nothing much happens, since both David and Lynn are stuck at Lynn's house. Other than that, there's a lot of thinking (about their pasts, about their developing feelings for each other, etc.) and a lot of conversation. David is unimaginably perfect - he rarely gets angry, he respects Lynn's mind, he would never dream of hurting a woman and looks down on those who do, he's the first person to ever take the time to figure out how best to keep her deafness from being a problem, and he apologizes frequently for any trouble he might cause Lynn with his presence. Although I wished Lynn wouldn't burst into tears and run away from David so much (it got a little bit annoying), her reactions were believable, considering her past and her experiences with her family. Once David finally manages to go home and bring Lynn with him, his daughter instantly accepts that she will have a new mother and is happy about the news - that seemed almost too perfect to me.

There's not much in the way of sex in this book, which I didn't consider all that surprising - it would've been socially unacceptable for David and Lynn to do much about their feelings for each other before their marriage at nearly the end of the book. About the most they do is the occasional kiss, and even then I wondered a little if that sort of thing would actually have been allowing during that time period. Probably not, but then, I think they were already breaking a few rules by being stuck alone together in Lynn's house - maybe it didn't really count, because Lynn was a widow? I don't know. Anyway, although Lynn and David do consummate their marriage, Carleton skips over the actual act. This book should be tame enough for pretty much anyone, and, in my opinion, David and Lynn's feelings for each other and their slowly developing relationship keep things from being uninteresting. The characters are too one-dimensional to truly be interesting, but they're still pleasant to read about.

Read-alikes:
  • The Parfit Knight (book) by Juliet Blyth - As a child, Rosalind was run down by the Marquis de Amberley's recklessly driven carriage. The accident blinded her, and she now lives in seclusion in the country. The Marquis, a notorious rake, later meets Rosalind and falls in love with her, but once he discovers that he is indirectly the cause of her blindness he believes it would be best to give her up. First, however, he is determined that she will have a "normal" Season. Those who'd like another romance (in this case, a Georgian romance) starring a woman with a disability might enjoy this book.
  • The Dastardly Duke (book) by Eileen Putman - A reformed rake makes a wager with a friend that he can transform a deaf prostitute into a lady. It's trouble when the two begin to fall in love, because society would never accept them together if they knew the truth about her. Those who'd like another Regency romance starring a deaf female character might enjoy this book.
  • The Duchess of Vidal (book) by Dawn Lindsey - When a storm strands Dominique overnight with a mysterious stranger, her reputation is ruined. Dominique finds herself marrying the man, who, it turns out, is a notorious rake. Those who'd like another Regency romance in which two people are stranded together by a storm might enjoy this book.
  • A Scandalous Journey (book) by Susannah Carleton - Beth Castleton's first impression of George Winterbrook, Earl of Weymouth, is not a good one, and she hopes never to have to see him again. Unfortunately for her, a crazy widow kidnaps George, his 4-year-old niece, and Beth, thinking her to be the child's governess. Those who'd like to read more about some of the minor characters from Carleton's A Twist of Fate may enjoy this book.

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