Naïve and innocent, Lady Ellen Pembroke falls for a dashing young army officer. Captain Paul Harding has such an easy, enchanting smile and his blue eyes glow; vibrancy and warmth emanating from him. She is in love.
In turn, the Captain finds his attention captured by the beautiful young daughter of the Duke of Pembroke at a house party in the summer. Finding Ellen is like finding treasure on the battle field. His sanity clings to her – something beautiful to remind him that not all in the world is ugly.
Ellen is someone to fight for and someone to survive for when he is inevitably called to arms in the battle of Waterloo…
REVIEW: Let me preface this review with letting you all know how much I love reading this author’s work. I was left an emotional wreck each time I finished one of her books, and this one more so than the others and that is because this one is a prequel to Ellen’s romance with Edward in ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.
My advice, to all that have not read this author, is to read this story before you go on to ‘TILOAC’. Take my word for it. It will help you understand the heroine Ellen much better.
Having read ‘TILOAC’ first, I knew the outcome of this story and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read it. I’m one of those that do not read the ending before I start the book. I can deal with the spoilers, but I can’t deal with someone letting me know what the ending is. It just ruins the story, don’t you think? Well, at least that’s what I think …thought, I should say. Because, in the end, my knowledge of this authors wonderful storytelling won me over and I went for it.
By the time the story was done, I felt sorrow, anger and a relief. That last one was only because I knew that Ellen’s story does not end with this book.
Ms. Jane Lark did an outstanding job at writing a heartbreaking ‘first love’ story of two young and disillusioned people. Both characters were well developed and the emotional turmoil and internal struggle they went through as they slowly came to terms with the choices they made in order to be together. The steady pace of the story helps a reader connect with and understand these two as they embark on the journey of discovery of each other and their environment. Especially the historical part and the era this takes place in. If you loved ‘War and Peace’ than you’ll appreciate the reality Ms. Lark gives to this story and its locations from Brussels at Lady Richmond’s ball, the Battle of Quatre-Bras and on to Waterloo. We are in awe as much as our teenaged bride is, of the life a soldier and his wife are forced to endure, from slow and muddy marches to making silent love in the cot among sleeping soldiers.
Even though I thought the story well written and plotted, I couldn’t help but wonder if I would have been better off not knowing Paul at all. I found myself questioning his choices and accusing him of selfishness while at the same time making allowances for them because of his age. He was so very young and all he wanted to do is love and be loved.
In the end I have concluded that if I’ve read this story before book one, my appreciation and understanding of what Ellen went through would have been ten times of what it really was.
Do I recommend it? Hell yes. The prose alone is worth the read, not to mention the historical detail included. Be warned though. The emotional rollercoaster of this story is ever present and doesn’t let go until the very end, or the next book, I should say.
If you’d like to read of Ellen’s son John Harding, the Duke of Pembroke, his story is in ‘The Scandalous Love of a Duke’.
Melanie for b2b
Complimentary copy provided by the author