A Season for Love
This book isn’t perfect, but it’s different. I picked it up after reading the back cover because it sounded interesting. It’s actually nothing like the back cover, which makes the book sound like a single love story. There are actually two romances for the price of one here, and both get equal weight and time. The one that’s not mentioned on the back cover is by far the more interesting of the two.
Lady Caroline Carlington has spent the last eight years in the country, raised quietly by her bitter mother who was thoroughly tired of the ton. Her mother pretended to be a simple widow, but she was actually a duke’s wife. After the duchess’s death, Caroline journeys to London to inform her father – who is on the verge of remarrying – that her mother was pregnant when she left him, and that he has a son and heir. Caroline is afraid her father will throw her out and never want to see her again, but instead he rushes to the village where his son Laurence has been living, brings him back to London, and proclaims Laurence his heir.
What follows is a deceptively simple double love story. Marcus Carlington, Duke of Longville, is Caroline’s father. When he took off to find his son, he left his fiancée Jen with only the briefest of explanations. She finds herself insecure about their marriage and unsure of Marcus’s feelings for her. They spend most of the book working out their relationship and trying to learn how to be married. Meanwhile, Caroline finds that her mother’s dire warnings about the ton are perhaps too harsh. Jen’s dashing brother Tony begins squiring her about town. Almost before either of them is aware of it, Caroline and Tony develop feelings for each other.
The back cover makes it sound as if Caroline and Tony’s love story is the primary focus of the book, but fortunately it isn’t. It’s not nearly as interesting as the romance between Caroline’s father and Tony’s older sister. Jen and Marcus are the kind of characters I’d love to see more often. They are thoughtful and genuine, and their interaction is both sweet and believable. Jen is a widow who followed the drum and lost her husband on the Peninsula. A very tall woman, she is insecure about her looks and unsure why the duke chose her as a wife when his first wife was so petite and beautiful. Marcus is interesting in that he has lived alone for many years and suddenly must deal not only with a wife, but also with three children (his own two and Jen’s daughter from her previous marriage). He also loves Jen, and behaves like an adult as he reins in his more autocratic tendencies. The ups and downs of their relationship make for entertaining reading.
Caroline and Tony are less interesting. Mostly, the fault lies with Caroline, who struck me as too immature for an adult relationship. I got the point that her mother had practically brainwashed her into hating members of high society, but I still had little patience with her churlish behavior. She’s rude to Jen, rude to her father, and occasionally rude to Tony. She makes unfair assumptions on a regular basis, and treats others accordingly. She does have a semi-epiphany at the end of the book, but I wasn’t sure she really changed her ways. At one point very late in the game, she really resents Tony and blames him for being unable to help her out of a tight situation. He’s unable to help because he’s been knocked unconscious (through no fault of his own), but Caroline is still more worried about looking out for number one. I really thought she needed another year or so to grow up before seeking a husband – especially one as nice a Tony.
There are a couple of additional problems that took this book into the just-above-average category. The first was that I couldn’t believe a duke of the realm would let his wife take off for parts unknown and make no attempt either to follow her or to keep up with what’s going on in her life. As far as I could tell, the only communication between the duke and his daughter is her letter telling him that his wife has died, and his response inviting her to come live with him (which she answers in person a year later). Sometimes I wonder whether authors really think things through, because this just doesn’t make sense. I couldn’t imagine a duke (or anyone, come to think of it) so lacking in curiosity. The other problem is an extraneous suspense plot that seems rushed and unnecessary in a book of this length. However, this is somewhat balanced out by some great political background information. The story takes place on the eve of Waterloo, and people in London actually seem interested in what is going on on the other side of the channel. The duke is involved in important meetings and political decision making, and it’s a very nice touch.
If you pick this one up, do it for Jen and Marcus, who have a nice story that deserves to be heard. Don’t worry so much about Caroline. Though the back cover implies that she’s the star of the show, she really plays second billing to her more interesting father and stepmother.