For All Eternity
For All Eternity is an historical set in London in the year 1807. While not altogether original (those up on their fairy tales will recognize this plot) the story has charm and a touch of humor, and the characters are memorable.
Incomparable Sophie Barrington, beautiful, impulsive, charming, and foolish (but then, she is only seventeen) is the toast of the ton and relishing her first Season. Already in love and imagining happily ever-afters, her dreams come to a sudden end when she learns that her fortune has been squandered by her guardians. She is to be forced to marry Nicholas Somerville, Earl of Lyndhurst, or face debtors’ prison. While Nicholas is wealthy and considered by most to be the catch of the season, Sophie is unable to see past his scarred face. Certain that her beloved will rescue her from her dilemma, she impulsively rushes to him, only to be cruelly disappointed and publicly disgraced. Sophie’s guardians abandon her, and penniless and fearing prison, Sophie turns to her only other relative, an ancient great-uncle. Her troubles do not end there, however, and Sophie learns humility and kindness as she travels a rough road. Nicholas also has his hurdles to clear; Sophie’s rejection of him due to his scar badly undermines his confidence.
There was a lot I liked about this book, especially in the first half. Ms. Cullman writes with energy and humor, and parts of the book had me chuckling out loud. Sophie is delightful in her gullibility, and she is hilarious as she remembers “lessons” taught by a friend’s brother in her youth. She ponders such things as whether or not a given man is a feather man, a daisy man, or the dreaded custard man. Nicholas’ mother’s attempts to match her son up with one of three dreadful ladies offer moments of laughter as well. While the plot is not especially original, it is written in a fresh manner, and I looked forward to reading what would happen next.
I did, however, find a few weaknesses. After a very promising beginning, the second half of the book was a bit of a letdown. Sophie shows an admirable ability to grow in character, but she grows a bit too fast and too completely for my liking. I found that much of her charming spirit disappeared, and she became a rather too-sweet bit of milquetoast by the end.
I also did not really care for the love scenes; Sophie as the innocent-wanton was a bit too unbelievable. And that brings up an important point. I gave this book a sensuality rating of “warm” because the book is rated “G” in everything except one close encounter and one consummated love scene which are graphic. Readers who prefer their romance on the sweet side may find the amount of detail in the love scenes a bit much, but those who want plenty of sexual tension may find the majority of the book too ho-hum.
These nits aside, though, this is an entertaining story and worth reading.