Friday, May 19, 2006

One GoodTurn; Carla Kelly

Color me slow. Carla Kelly has quite a following among traditional Regency fans. Yet somehow I'd not found her. Finally I found one at my one & only UBS. Scooped it up & brought it home. Then it got buried in my TBR. For a very long time. Yesterday, however, the Romance Goddess smiled upon me & said, "Go forth to thy TBR, pull out Ms. Kelly's book & READ it. Today. I demand it."

And all I can say is, wow. This book really worked for me. The heroine, Liria, is a Spanish woman traveling with her young son, Juan, a few years after the War. The mail coach overturns & she sets out in a driving downpour carrying her son & her luggage making for the next inn. Along comes the Duke of Knaresborough, Benedict Nesbitt. Traveling to his seat with his niece & his butler, Knaresborough stops to pick Liria & Juan up, although only after his butler prods him. From there, chicken pox, unexpected guests & fate step in.

Liria's character is revealed mainly through Knareborough's thoughts & observations as opposed to her own actions. She appears to be all that womanhood ought to be- loving, maternal toward her son, organized, a good nurse. Attractive, although not in the classic English mold. If I may say so (speaking from personal experience), Kelly did an excellent job writing a character who had all of the traits of an excellent military wife.

Knaresborough is not revealed in the best light- in love with a married woman he can't have, a recovering alcoholic, obsessed with Liria's supposed status as a 'fallen woman' yet is also a man who eats with his staff belowstairs. Even so, his love for his niece & Juan clearly comes across, his (eventual) concern for his men upon their return to civilian life all speak of a man returning to life after the horrors of a vicious war.

Knaresborough & Liria must reach across the bounds of culture, personal history, class & the long term effects of war to make their dreams come true. Liria's history becomes Knaresborough's obsession. Will she, can she, tolerate his digging into her past? Can each individual grow enough to allow love to flower between them? Can the horrors of war be healed?

No comments: