Alas, My Love
Okay, so you won’t find any Regency spies or half-baked suspense plots in Edith Layton’s latest. That’s the good news. The bad news is that you also won’t find a lot of reasons to keep turning the pages either. To put it bluntly, Alas, My Love is a classic Regency in Disguise and, what might have worked nicely in 220 pages, is w-a-a-a-y over-padded here. To make matters worse, while Ms. Layton doesn’t embrace many of the familiar elements of today’s European Historical, she also doesn’t hesitate to latch onto series-itis and this one – just like virtually every other novel of its kind – includes glimpses of both the last hero and the next one.
Wealthy Amyas St. Ives has two goals in life: The first is to marry well and cement his position in respectable society and the second to discover the truth about his birth. Transported for stealing as a child, the orphaned young man formed a close attachment to another young man sent to Australia at the same time who – you guessed it – bears all the signs of a future hero. Back in England and now financially secure, Amyas believes that Cornwall is where he will discover the truth about himself as his unusual name is featured in a Cornish folk song.
Soon after his arrival, Amyas meets local businessman Hugo Tremellyn and his beautiful daughter Grace. Deciding immediately that Grace is an ideal candidate for the position of wife – not too far above his station, but not too low either – Amyas sets out to court her. Unfortunately, Amber, the orphaned young woman who also makes her home with the Tremellyns, puts a crimp in Amyas’ plans.
As an orphan herself with no knowledge of her parentage, a marriage to Amber will only hinder his plans to better his position in society so, despite his instant and powerful attraction to her, Amyas instantly distances himself from the young woman. Unfortunately, he also manages to convey to her that he does, indeed, see her as an inferior and far beneath his notice. But, of course, despite the damage to her pride, Amber is as attracted to Amyas as he is to her.
Believe it or not, that’s just about all that happens here. Maybe I’ve gotten a bit spoiled, but, for me at any rate, a few dinner parties, a few walks on the beach, a few conversations, a few lackluster secondary characters, and a few misunderstandings do not a compelling book make – especially when that book is 371 pages long. Equally disappointing, when the truth about Amber is revealed, it is unbelievably clichéd while that about Amyas is incredibly frustrating. If intended to spur sales of the book’s sequel, it failed for me.
As for Amber and Amyas, neither is particularly interesting. In fact, it’s been less than 24 hours since I finished the book and I’m hard pressed to remember much about either of them. Add in the s-l-o-w development of the meager plot and the less-than-incendiary chemistry between the two leads and I can’t come even close to recommending this book.
I’ve read and enjoyed many of Edith Layton’s books in the past, but, for some reason, never managed to get around to reading her releases for the last few years. Based on my experience with this book, I have to say my avoidance instincts would seem to be correct.