A romance that reads like a soap opera, this book sucked me in very quickly and had my heart tied up in knots by the time I was done reading! So much drama, mystery, villainry, and romance, the author threw in so many elements that could appeal to a variety of readers. I was very sad to hear the author passed away last month, and I assume this will be her last published work - it is a good one to end on. While it was predictable, it was also memorable in all the different facets of historical life it touched on. I can't talk about much without giving away a large portion of the plot, but suffice to say we are shown a lot of the shady elements of life in the 1800s. You certainly won't be bored!
Gordon McDonnell, the gardener's son, and Jennifer Adaire, the earl's daughter, were never meant to fall in love. Growing up, they were inseparable but doomed to be star-crossed lovers. As time passed, their friendship turned into something more, and it was then that their loved ones decided it was time to separate them. Both led to believe that the other was no longer interested in them, they were forced apart for five years. During that time, Gordon made a name for himself as the owner of two music halls and a gentleman's club, but he never forgot Jennifer. She never forgot him either, staying away from London and potential suitors, she's been running Adaire Hall virtually by herself. When Gordon's father becomes ill, Jennifer writes to Gordon, and he returns to find that their love has just been simmering all these years. Soon it is set aflame once more, but a horrifying secret threatens to doom them both to an eternity of heartbreak.
It all seems very familiar, and yet I found myself intrigued. I figured out fairly early on where the story was going to go, I had a feeling I knew how things would resolve themselves, and yet still, I couldn't help but read on. Gordon and Jennifer fit perfectly, like two puzzle pieces, and while I'm not usually a fan of love being rekindled so quickly after a long separation (I like more angst), it worked for them. We were given enough background, without settling too long on backstories, to understand how devoted they were to each other, and I also understood the variety of villains in their midst. Gordon's father and mother were absolutely dreadful, Jennifer's brother was disgusting, and it makes one wonder what Jennifer's godmother was doing all this time. She loved Jennifer, but she never did anything to help her find out what happened with Gordon all those years ago. Seemed odd to me, and I would have liked a bit more explanation there. Maggie was also a conundrum to me, for her actions didn't match what little we learned of her in the beginning of the book. Both she and Ellen (the godmother) needed more backstory, but even without it, the book flowed well.
I wish I could say I look forward to the next book, as I often do at the end of a review, but sadly there will be no more. Karen Ranney was a fine author, one who could write stories that captured the imaginations of her readers, and she will be dearly missed.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**