I am somewhat of a binge reader. If I discover an author I like, I tend to read everything I can find by them. Sometimes, this leads to disappointment. That first book I got hold of may be substantially different from the author’s previous work. Or maybe the writer in question has honed their craft markedly so that what is an excellent novel the seventh time round was not quite as impressive when they first started out.
Recently, I discovered Anna Campbell. I must admit I was seduced by a lovely, yellow cover and after reading that novel I have since blown through everything she has written. I am happy to report I am not disappointed. Ms Campbell writes delicious, steamy historical romance of a consistent high quality. Her characters have depth and plausible backstories. The central love story is well-developed and the historical context brought to excellent life. The emotional turmoil is often coupled with suspense, thereby enriching the reading experience.
I specifically want to share my thoughts on one of Ms Campbell’s later books, Lord Garson’s Bride. Central to the story is Hugh Rutherford, Lord Garson, himself. No longer a callow youth, our Hugh fell head over heels in love some years previously with the fair Morwenna Nash, who at the time believed she had lost her first husband to the seas. Turns out that Captain Nash was not dead and somewhat importunely he makes it back to London just as Lord Garson and Morwenna are about to announce their engagement. Hugh’s heart is crushed. He is quite, quite sure he will never love again, but life on his own is a tad lonely, and besides, he wants a family. So what does Hugh do? He seeks out a level-headed bride, a woman he’s known since forever and likes a lot, has a lot in common with but does not love.
Jane Norris is taken aback by Hugh’s proposal, but marrying him seems a far better proposition than spending her life as an unpaid nanny to her sister’s children. She tells herself that liking someone can be quite enough for a successful marriage, and Hugh treats her with respect and will make a good, loyal husband. So she agrees… Does she hope to one day inspire more than warm affection from her husband? Yes. But she keeps on telling herself that what she has is good enough.
Let’s just say that the Jane-Hugh's marriage soon becomes very, very complicated, and at one point Hugh, Jane and I are quite convinced their marriage is beyond salvation – wounds have been inflicted on both sides that run too deep.
For those who enjoy well-written and layered historical romance, this novel is a treat. Neither Hugh nor Jane are stereotyped, their reactions and feelings easy to relate to. Add to this the historical setting, the swish of expensive evening gowns, the glitter of jewels and of polished Hessians, and I am swept away to another time, another place, all the while keeping my fingers crossed that Ms Campbell will somehow find a way to give Hugh and Jane the Happily Ever After they deserve!
© Anna Belfrage
contains scenes of an adult nature