Every now and again one comes across a book that is romantic yet does not fall under the definition one has today of being a ‘romance’. And I say ‘romance’ there while wiggling my eyebrows, pursing my lips and shaking my shoulders like I was having a rather saucy seizure. I read some of the reviews for this novel and some were rather harsh and disparaging, unfairly so, but I think that the reason for the crankiness is because people see the Ellora’s Cave branding and they expect a specific kind of read. Elaine Violette’s story is really a very good romantic fiction, but not a typical historical romance as per the Ellora’s Cave cant and crowd, leaving a ton of sand in the crotch of naysayers and angsty hard-to-find-their-orgasm Erotica addicts; this is a good read.
Alaina lives a nightmare existence with a tyrannical, abusive, dirtbag father who pressures her and her brother, Richard to kowtow to his vicious wishes. He has particularly sought to ruin a family close to their own, the Blackstones. Richard and Alaina are approached by the Blackstone’s heirs, Martin and York, about the Claymore father’s treachery. Convinced and converted, they undertake a search for evidence against their sire in support of the Blackstone’s case, that Lord Craymore acted with malice and intent to ruin the Blackstone name. All goes to crap when Alaina is found looking for the evidence in her father’s private domain, where she it is not so kosher for her to put her weaker sex regency sneakered tippy-toes. Lord Claymore drops a proverbial nut, turns violent, Richard and the Blackstone’s come to Alaina’s aid but the cat crap has hit the pan and she, in the heat of the moment, kills her odious parent.
Let me take a breath. I need it after that summary. That is a lot of plot and it’s just the set up. The story screeches to low gear and settles into a very mellow, almost slumberous speed through the next couple of chapters. The pace almost feels incongruous from the opening scene but Elaine is actually doing this very subtle building of anticipation. I really think it could have been notched up a few more ticks on the dial, it’s painfully laborious to read the first twenty or so pages of the second part of the ‘actual’ meat and potatoes’ portion of the read. You may even feel a sense of shellshock after the of the opening with the way the next portion progresses.
I’ve already said that this is a romantic fiction rather than a romance; let me clarify the difference. Through seventy-five percent of this novel the hero and heroine are separate and the plot isn’t so much about their affair as it is about them finding one another again and who they are as people. It’s romantic in the sense that a love story exists but it’s not what one would consider a romance in the active definition of what one would think a romance might be between two people. There are no longing glances, no flowers, no holding hands or whispered words. They are not even aware they are in the same part of the country as one another. This love they have is in pre-order; they have known one another and already have feelings for one another but have been separated by time, circumstance and distance. A Kiss of Promise is about fulfilling a commitment that was made on their first kiss–but all this has exists in an emotional vacuum.
This novel is very ‘Jane Austen-ish’ meets ‘Agatha Christie’ with a wink at some Historic New Englander appreciation. Don’t slaughter me or come after me with your pinking shears for naming the classics; I am saying that this novel had the feeling that those influences may have been there so keep your panties from twisting into places that will chafe. That romantic and idyllic hope that once one gets one’s ducks in a row, grows as a person, meets one’s fears and failures they can reach the golden ring is a keystone of many of the classics written by Jane Austen. The deeper, darker element of a sinister goings on and players in the background, mixed with compulsion, greed, manipulation and mayhem, have many themes based in the novels of Agatha Christie. We didn’t have a mysterious whodun’it? but the components that give Agatha Christie novels the element of suspicion is exactly those that Elaine Violette has used in this novel with her second villain, Phillip. I really recommend the books of those classy, classic, literaries if you want to see where the origins of something like this may come from.
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The Convenient Pretense Synopsis:
When Emily Grace Hughes, a poetess with an aversion to marriage, proposes a convenient pretense of courtship to Lord Marcus Deming during the London Season, Marcus sees it as a perfect solution to his matchmaking aunt’s interference. While the ruse ends in emotional turmoil and misconceptions, a more devious pretense brews at the Hughes’ estate, threatening all that Emily holds dear. Will Marcus’ unspoken love for Emily drive him to uncover the truth behind both pretenses or will the more malicious deceiver become the victor?
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Regal Reward Synopsis:
Marielle Henley’s betrothal to Richard Craymore has settled her future until her disobedience leads her into the path of a ruggedly handsome highwayman. York Blackstone’s seemingly invulnerable nature, hardened by a life molded in poverty and thievery, is tested when he becomes enamored with his beautiful and defiant captive. When she reveals the name of her betrothed she becomes a pawn in his obsession to destroy the man who falsely accused his father of treason and left his family desolate. York will let nothing or no one, not even his alluring captive, stand in his way. Marielle becomes trapped between loyalties to her betrothed and to her own heart. An unlikely group of conspirators joins together to bridge the gap between the power of the privileged and the determination of the discarded in society to seek justice. York and Marielle’s union must be sacrificed in the struggle to clear his father’s name. Could a meddling elderly aunt bridge the gap and bring the two lovers together, or is it too late?
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