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Marie Ange lives in Devon, waiting for the return of her husband, lost when his ship was wrecked during the Napoleonic War with France. She is convinced that Christopher still lives despite having no proof beyond the knowledge of her own heart. A letter arrives from a distant French relative offering a bequest that will pay for much-needed renovations to her house and with enough to pay for her brother-in-law to attend Naval College. A soldier sails to fetch her and from then on nothing goes to plan.
This Regency Romance is different if only because it takes place almost entirely in France where we are exposed to pro-Napoleonic sentiments and witness the class divisions that re-emerged after Napoleon's first deposition. You can't but feel sympathy for such feelings.
The story draws on legends from the days of the Knights Templar, adding an other-worldly tang and a heavy dose of mystery and danger. Marie Ange finds herself in constant peril and has a fair go at getting herself out of it. She is feminine enough to make a proper Regency Heroine, and yet is robust enough to avoid being annoying.
As a nit-pick, the ending was rather contrived and, to be honest, was unnecessary. There is a natural ending to the plot and story, and maybe the author should have appreciated that and not tried to do too much, less is best sometimes. But this is a Regency Romance and so it is forgivable.
But what actually lifts this novel above similar offerings is the author herself. It isn't perfect, the language is a touch off in places, but Ms Laval is not a native English speaker or writer – she's French, making this novel a rather impressive undertaking. That she has written this well in a language not her own makes me wish my French was good enough to enjoy to the full anything she may have written in her own language.
With a good team behind her Ms Laval would be a perfectly satisfying read. I found this story difficult to put down, desperate to discover what would happen next.
Absolutely worth reading and I feel there is more to come from this author.
© Nicky Galliers
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