Desert Isle Keeper
Remember Love is the first in a new series by prolific historical romance writer Mary Balogh. I was excited to crack this one open; I was not disappointed.
Devlin Ware has no reason to doubt the goodness, the honorability of his family. His father is the Earl of Stratton, and a family man beyond reproach, or so it is believed. Devlin is his heir, and admires his father in all things, until a celebration on their estate reveals a horrible secret. Exiled from Ravenswood, Devlin goes off to fight Napoleon, leaving much behind.
Gwyneth Rhys and Devlin were in love, but his banishment put an end to their budding romance. It would have been an excellent match, but it wasn’t to be, and Devlin disappears from her life for six long years. When Devlin does finally return, it’s to a devastated family and a life that no longer feels like his. He must set things right, but it’s been a long time, and Devlin doesn’t think he can ever be the person he was, if he can love again, or even if he should.
I am a sucker for a second-chance romance, especially in historicals, although I was a bit taken aback by the structure of the story, since most with a similar plotline and time jump between ‘then’ and ‘now’ have less exposition at the beginning, but it really works here. A lot of books would just begin after the return of the heir and the reader would spend the rest of the plot trying to unravel the mystery of his traumatic banishment. In this case, giving us the full story at the start is a good call. Not only does the reader understand the characters’ motivations, the two principals mostly understand each other. Misunderstandings as a trope have a time and a place, and I’m glad this book doesn’t rely on that.
Remember Love is a pretty angsty read, and Devlin does not always cover himself in glory when it comes to the way he treats Gwyneth. A lot of his coldness to her and others is certainly because of the trauma he experiences, and he does redeem himself in words and in actions by the end. Devlin’s central struggle is with himself; he goes through a lot of change in a very short time, and he needs to reorient his worldview, which is realistic and understandable. Gwyneth is patient without being a pushover, and I really appreciated that. She isn’t shy about what she wants, and she’s seen as desirable by others.
I enjoyed Remember Love a lot. I remain a big Balogh fan, and I’m looking forward to the next few books in the series. The Ware siblings intrigue me and I can’t wait to read the rest of their stories.