Desert Isle Keeper
Miss Truelove Beckons
Donna Simpson is showing every sign of becoming one of the best of the new crop of Regency Romance writers. Her new book, Miss Truelove Beckons is the story of a wounded soldier who finds healing and love in the company of the titular heroine. The book also has a subplot featuring Miss Truelove’s cousin Arabella who could easily have been a stereotypical scheming regency beauty, but instead is a complex and interesting character.
Wycliffe Prescott, Viscount Drake has come home after the Battle of Waterloo. He is a hero, a man who faced death and came out alive. But Drake is scarred by a wound to his leg and plagued with nightmares that will not let him sleep. At one point during the campaign, he shot and killed a French soldier who later proved to be unarmed. When Drake found a locket on the man with a portrait of a woman and baby, his conscience began to torture him and he has not been at peace since. Along with all that, at the Battle of Waterloo, Drake was buried under dead men and his own dead horse, but his devoted batman saved him. Now he is home to rest and recover while his family is pressing him to marry, but the nightmares will not end.
Drake’s family are longtime friends of the Swinley family. Lady Swinley comes to visit, bringing her beautiful daughter Arabella along with Arabella’s cousin, Miss Truelove Beckett. When Drake first hears her name, he hears it as Truelove Beckons and it seems to him that she does beckon to him, plus she is the embodiment of all he has been searching for. He is struck by her gentle beauty and the aura of calmness and serenity that surrounds her. But his family has plans for him to marry Arabella.
As he spends time in company with the two young women, Drake feels nothing for Arabella. Oh, she is beautiful – a diamond of the first water in fact, but she is vapid, hides her intelligence, eats like a modern supermodel and is rude and petulant when things do not go her way. On the other hand, True is natural and unaffected. She gives her opinions, eats good food and always there is that aura of calmness and serenity around her. When Drake falls asleep outside and suffers a nightmare attack, Arabella is frightened but True calmly strokes his brow and speaks soothingly until he comes to. Soon Drake is deeply in love with True, but she has always deferred to others. And Drake is meant for Arabella.
I know you may think you have read this before, but trust me, the characters make Miss Truelove Beckons special. There are little touches and descriptions that fill out and make even peripheral characters like Drake’s mother and father very real. While Drake and True are both good as can be, they are not cloying or icky sweet. The descriptions of Drake’s torment made me hurt in sympathy for him, and as for True – she was close to being an angel in human form. While I loved their story and cheered their HEA, it was Arabella who caught my interest as the story progressed.
Arabella is not at all the selfish, shallow creature that she appears to be. Actually she is intelligent and fun-loving – she and True spent many happy hours playing as children. But Arabella is a beauty and she is expected to marry well and marry rich since her family is deeply in debt. Arabella’s assumes these affectations on her mother’s orders – they need a wealthy man in the family. But Arabella’s own scruples will not allow her to continue in her pursuit of Drake once she sees how his feelings are, and Arabella is beginning to want to be loved – but still they do need money – and there is another rich man on the horizon. We will get Arabella’s story in the next book.
Donna Simpson’s Regencies are marked by deep emotion. These are not light comedies of manners, but are more like short historical novels set in the regency period. Those who like their regency romances with more emotion and depth will love Donna Simpson, and as for me, I can’t wait for her next one.