I'll Always Love You
Ella Quinn’s sprightly novella, I’ll Always Love You provides a charming early winter distraction for fans of her Worthingtons series.
Lady Lucinda Hughlot is struggling to find proper sponsorship for her first Season in the wake of her father’s death. Her mother, hoping to dispense with her guardianship duties and return quickly to their country manor, arranges a match for Lucinda with the Marquis of Quorndon, son of her oldest friend, believing he’ll be the perfect match for her daughter.
Lucinda has dreamt for years of having a season and of finding love, but although Quorndon is indeed a nice enough gentleman, he’s too flawless, too perfect and there’s no ‘spark’ between them.
Gerald, Earl Elliott, is dealing with the demands of his recently widowed mother, who wants to remodel their entire London home according to her taste. Once he marries he plans to live his own life and travel frequently – his mother will then have her own dower house – but until then he caters to her whims. Marriage has much been on his mind lately, but he has a tendency to fall for the wrong women – usually those who’ve been recently engaged or married. When Lady Lucinda comes to town, Gerald is happy to watch over her as a favor to a friend, completely unaware of the fact that Lucinda has always carried a torch for him. Now that they’re regularly thrown together, her crush is only growing and he is alarmingly aware of his own growing feelings for Yet Another Engaged Woman.
Lucinda gets to work to find Quorndon a true love match to get her out of the betrothal while trying to ignore her attraction to Gerald, while Gerald tries to work out how he can woo her without upsetting Lucinda’s mother or angering the close friend who asked him to look out for her.
Lucinda is bright and mischievous in the Emma mold; she knows her fate is marriage and a family, but she’ll be damned if she won’t be with someone who, at the very least, likes to go horseback riding and admires art as much as she does. She’s worth rooting for, and definitely worth falling in love with.
As poor, semi-luckless Gerald quickly discovers! He knows how to commandeer his fate, if not his heart (and certainly not the spirited Lucinda), and watching him try to figure out where his loyalties and his affections lie is quite a lot of fun. He’ll do anything for Lucinda, no matter what.
The romance is wonderfully paced in general. Gerald catches up to Lucinda’s crush quickly enough, and the two of them try to fight through it, but naturally they succumb, falling for each other during visits to Almacks, rides in the park and trips to museums. It’s a love built on commonality as well as attraction, and eventually it’s impossible to deny that they belong together.
Our supporting characters are fun – fussy Quordon and his eventual squeeze, a spinster who yearns for a kind man draw sympathy from the reader, and Lucinda’s mother remains the same overbearing, well-meaning but ridiculous woman she was in the previous three books. I was disappointed that Gerald’s mother came off as more bloodless in the end, but she’s a very minor part of the story.
My principal complaints are that the plot resolution feels somewhat rushed and so does does the novella’s sole sex scene, which seems to have been plugged into the proceedings in order to fulfill its sensuality level instead of the demands of the plot. I know that it’s a novella and thus must be brief, but our idyll with Lucinda and Gerald was so enjoyable that they deserved better pacing.
A fun and entertaining story that doesn’t quite work as a standalone, there’s an appealing lightness to I’ll Always Love You. It’s downright adorable as a comedy of manners, and very entertaining as a romance.
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