A Whisper of Violets
A Whisper of Violets is as beautiful a romance as its title suggests. As a lovely, violet-eyed heiress joins up with a supposedly treasonous Earl to both clear his name and retrieve a musical score for her dying aunt, the reader is quickly captivated by each of their plights, and that as well of the heiress’ straight-laced brother and a beautiful young woman who teaches him the power of love.
When we meet Nicholas Derrington, Earl of Seacombe, and Dorian St. John, they are involved in a bidding war for a fragment of music from an obscure Hungarian composer who died as a political prisoner. Each wants the fragment for a different reason. Nicholas believes that all the fragments of the composer’s “A Whisper of Violets,” if fit together like a puzzle, will reveal the name of the man who framed him as a French spy and ruined his promising Naval career.
Dorian is trying to grant her beloved aunt’s dying wish to compile the complete works of her beloved teacher, the composer, who was also her lover. After the auction, Nicholas proposes an arrangement – he and Dorian will pretend to be betrothed and will search for the rest of the score together. He has one piece, she another – it is a third they must find.
Neither is willing to reveal the real reason they are searching for the fragment, but each does need each other. Although Dorian is not titled, her wealth and independent ways have made her a darling of the ton. Nicholas is no longer accepted by society and needs her entree. He, in turn, instead of working against her, can join forces and perhaps hasten their discovery of the score.
Their growing relationship is delightful as it unfolds. Nicholas is first to realize that he has strong feelings for Dorian, but hides behind repartee and sarcastic grand gestures. Dorian, in turn, has waited until the age of 25 to experience true love. Because Nicholas hides his true feelings, she must not let on that she is beginning to love him either. When he offers her the Seacombe amethyst as her betrothal ring and she does not accept it because she believes he should save it for his one true love, he is terribly wounded; he wants her to be his love but is unable to say it. This is a standard romantic stale-mate where both the hero and the heroine are in love but can not admit it because each is sure the other does not return the feeling. But author Madl has worked wonders with the oft-used premise. Even when things become dangerous and Nicholas decides he can only protect Dorian by crying off on their engagement in the classic I-love-her-and-to-protect-her-I-must-push-her-away manner romance heroes have, this reviewer stayed tuned to see how things would be resolved.
I am not at all ashamed to say that one reason I was so captivated by A Whisper of Violets was because of the love scenes. And not only those between Dorian and Nicholas, but those between Dorian’s brother Davis, and Susannah, a lovely titian-haired widow who Davis thinks is a common piece of baggage not worthy of his attentions.
The author expresses Davis’ point-of-view often in this book, and his romance with Susannah, which provides several wonderful love scenes, are important in more than one way. Yes, they are wonderfully written love scenes, and, yes, it is unfortunate that Davis treats Susannah badly before he realizes what a gem she really is, but his character comes alive and learns how to love through their love-making.
I did have a couple of problems with the book, however, that need to be mentioned. Dorian and Davis’ easy acceptance into the ton based solely on their wealth didn’t seem entirely plausible. And, the book does bog down on more than one occasion during Nicholas and Dorian’s search for the missing fragment. Finally, when the truth is finally revealed, the reader might have to re-trace some steps to “get” it.
But the romantic aspects of A Whisper of Violets overshadow its faults. From the premise of the dying aunt and her beloved who composed a score for her in prison, to the awakening in Nicholas, Dorian, and Davis of true love and trust, to the small points the author makes such as Dorian’s eye-color matching the color of Nicholas’ betrothal ring, the title of the musical score and title of the book, this book entirely fulfills my romantic expectations. It is most definitely a Luscious Love Story, and, at $4.99, it is a bargain as well.