Desert Isle Keeper
From This Moment
If she writes it, I will buy it. That is pretty much my mantra regarding Elizabeth Camden. I love the way I never know what to expect from her books – mystery, adventure, touching self-discovery or politics – and yet I know exactly what to expect from her books – excellent prose, rich history, and sweet, intellectual romance. From This Moment entirely lives up to those expectations.
It is a great time to be the publisher of a scientific magazine. Romulus White, fashionable man about town and editor of Scientific World, is delighted with the rapid pace of scientific discovery and advancement of the 19th, soon to be 20th, Century. In his own city of Boston they are putting in the first American subway and he has a front row seat to that event. In fact, he has been a key player in making it happen. His magazine educated the public on the benefits of this new mode of transportation and eased any fears they had about its safety or efficacy. As he glides across the glittering ballroom at a gala in celebration of the new funding that has just come through for the project, he is giddy with joy and anticipation. Not only have his efforts on behalf of the subway been successful but a woman he has long pursued has recently moved to Boston. He has no intention of letting her get away from him once more.
Stella West has resisted moving to Boston for years. Although her beloved sister was there and her family lived nearby, her heart belonged to London. In London, her training at Cornell in Lithography has made her a celebrated artist; her natural beauty and charm have made her a popular young woman with a dazzling social life. But when she learns her sister Gwendolyn has died she sacrifices everything she has achieved to become a stenographer at Boston’s City Hall. Convinced that the police have wrongly declared Gwendolyn’s murder a suicide, Stella determines she will work where Gwendolyn worked and track all who knew her until she gets to the bottom of what really happened. Romulus White’s continued determination to hire Stella to illustrate his magazine holds no interest for her.
Stella’s cool rebuttals of Romulus’ attempts to woo her as an employee don’t last. While her blistering determination to find the truth has earned her nothing but sore feet and doors slammed in her face, this man has connections all over the city. He can help her gain access to people who right now won’t give her the time of day. The two quickly form an alliance where they can both have something they want; Stella will work for Romulus but he must help her get to the bottom of what happened to Gwendolyn. Romulus is thrilled with their deal. Convinced that sisterly devotion is keeping Stella from seeing the truth of Gwendolyn’s death he good naturedly sets out to help her trace her sister’s last days.
Romulus and Stella both bring a lot of issues into their detective partnership. He struggles with a long history of insecurity. From family that didn’t believe in him to a lover that ditched him for another, he is singularly aware of his every failing. School was difficult. He’s bad at managing money. He couldn’t get the girl. He doesn’t trust his current success and when he starts to have feelings for Stella, he doesn’t trust those either.
Stella struggles with guilt. She had a glittering life in London, a life she wants to return to. It was her mother that pushed for her to be able to have that life but since Gwendolyn’s death, her mother has been suffering from severe depression. Stella is conflicted by her desire to leave and her knowledge that her family needs her. When she starts to have feelings for Romulus she doesn’t want to acknowledge them – he doesn’t fit into any of the plans she has made for the future.
The problem for both of them is that they can’t seem to put their mutual attraction on hold. Their conversations are fast paced battles of wits but underneath the banter is truth. Most don’t pick up on that honesty but Stella and Romulus understand each other so well that these revelations are crystal clear to them. They work well together and each needs the skills that the other has in order to be complete. And most of all, they are matched on every level –professional, spiritual, physical and intellectual. They are two imperfect people who have found their perfect match.
The author does such an excellent job of bringing her characters to life that I found myself completely captivated by them and rooting for their romance. Part of the charm is how well she uses her story and secondary characters – like Romulus’ cousin Evelyn and friends Michael Townsend and Clyde Baxter – to reveal the inner workings of our hero and heroine. The plot serves the characters well also, providing a scintillating mechanism for a fascinating love story. And as per usual, the setting (Boston) and history are outstanding in their detail and she uses them with an expert hand, weaving them seamlessly into the story.
This is an Inspirational but Camden never uses her prose as a sermon. Given the fact that America has often defined itself as a Christian nation I think both characters display the proper amount of religiosity for the time period.
I had one small quibble with the tale and it is that when a Camden hero decides to be an Alpha jerk he throws himself completely into the role. Romulus’ attitude toward marriage, the magical age of forty and some general immaturity regarding all that irritated me beyond measure. The book is near perfect other than that.
From This Moment was an enjoyable read filled with mystery, romance, richly drawn characters and fascinating American history. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a heartfelt, sweet and emotionally gripping tale.