Delacorte, 2004 (2004)
Reviewed by Rashmi Srinivas
ompelled to attend a house party given by her good friend Baroness Renable, widow Christine Derrick makes an inauspicious beginning when she accidentally spills lemonade over the party's most high-ranking bachelor guest, Wulfric, Duke of Bewcastle. Her naturally exuberance, friendliness and somewhat accident-prone ways make Mrs. Derrick seem the last woman to attract the attentions of a fastidious man like Wulfric - and the aloof and prideful Duke isn't at all outgoing Christine's type.
et they're intrigued by each other – Wulfric by Christine's boldness and laughter in the face of all his ducal majesty, and Christine by his hidden depths. While neither can deny the growing sexual attraction between them, the vast gulf in social status and their widely differing characters do not bode well for a future together. Each is filled with doubts, past hurts and self-recriminations - will Love enter their lives?
hile reading this book, readers will be irresistibly reminded of Jane Austen's immortal
Pride and Prejudice
. The central characters are very alike in disposition, social disparity, and that unconquerable Love which ultimately overwhelms them. Like Lizzy with her Darcy, Christine's humor gradually thaws proud Wulfric into unbidden love, but their path to bliss is paved with misunderstanding and distrust. Mary Balogh adds a dollop of suspense and sexual tension to further intrigue already captivated readers.
alogh's prose brings alive the beauty of the countryside, together with the lifestyle of that era, and at the same time pokes gentle fun at the vagaries of human nature, with elegance and wit. Characters from previous books in this series all put in an appearance, maintaining a sense of continuity. Fans of Balogh's
series, or indeed of any of her books, will not be disappointed in
, the final installment in a stellar family saga.
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