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Posted October 10, 2012
Long review--lots to love!
Note: this book can stand alone, you don't have to read the first two, but you will want to!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Kate, the heroine of this tale, is not your average Regency heroine, in that, as the title states, she breaks the rules. Her reputation is, she thinks, in shambles thanks to events and people in her past, so she goes forth and does what is in her heart. This doesn't mean she doesn't care what people think about her; I think she cares a great deal, and is hurt by this, but she doesn't let it control her life to the extent that she is a complete shut-away and does whatever is asked of her in order to gain approval. She is her own person. I found Kate to be very much a multi-dimensional character, and I found her to be very refreshing.
Virgil is our hero, and he is a freed African American slave with a painful past. One of my favorite things about this book is how yes, of course this guy has baggage and pain from his past, and he has some issues he needs to move past, but the story doesn't just linger on this in order to have the reader feel sympathy. Virgil is a strong character. He has moved beyond slavery to become a powerful businessman who uses his influence and money to help others. He's a genuinely good person who doesn't whine about his past.
The love story is, once again, refreshing. We have a white English woman and an African American man, but this is not a story merely about racial difficulties. It's about overcoming obstacles in the past to find true love and happiness in the future. I found the descriptions of the characters to be sensual and "enough." I felt like I was there; there were just enough details to know what these people looked like, and enough sensations to really be there in the story, but the balance was so carefully kept; I didn't feel like someone was being described to me, like I was on the outside. Detail came out through action, as characters noticed things, which kept me fully engaged, almost like watching a movie.
I can't express how much I *love* the direction some of the Harlequin novels have been taking (and this is the second of Kaye's books I've seen this in) as far as dealing with social issues. These issues of course were relevant in the Regency times, but they are also just as important to think about today. Both the hero and heroine of this book have causes close to their hearts, and it really warmed me to see them working for them. So often I've read Regencies and other historical romances where, as a friend of mine so aptly put, there's nothing going on but "balls and duke-screwing." (I'm sorry, I had to). There is more to Kaye's characters--they aren't just thinking about having heirs and keeping their reputations intact; they are bigger people because they focus on bigger things.
I'm trying not to give anything away, because I think this book was superb. Many aspects of the book could have swiftly fallen down the tunnel of cliche with another author, but in the hands of a master, these aspects proved to strengthen the story, and make its message more powerful. This is a true love story.
PS--Love Aunt Wilhelmina. LOVE her, especially the turbans. Wonderful example of secondary character who is very endearing (and gosh, I want to know more about her) but who does not take over the story. Her actions toward the end of the story made me cry.