Secrets in Satin
Secrets in Satin is an amazingly good read. It is exciting, filled with political intrigue and danger without drowning in it. It is romantic as well, although the romance is written less personally than I generally prefer. Overall, this is an excellent book that would have been a Desert Isle Keeper had it not lost some steam at the end. Still, it is worth the reading if you like finely crafted historicals peopled with well-written characters and strong family ties.
The day Countess Elizabeth Ravenwold meets Edward Garrett, Viscount Creighton, she is dancing upon her husband’s grave. Garrett is appalled, never realizing the abuse her dead husband had perpetrated upon her for years and blaming her for their childless state.
When Prince Charles orders the two to marry in a fit of pique, they do so rather than face charges of treason. Elizabeth believes Garrett to be a ruthless rake, and he believes her to be made of ice.
On a mission for their exiled King, Garrett and Bess face danger and hardship. Garrett realizes that he must gain her trust if he is to trust her. But Bess’s life has not lent itself to trust – her father was a cold, hard man, and her husband a vile pig. In the face of Garrett’s human kindness, she slowly begins to warm to him.
As for Garrett, Bess’ steel resolve impresses him, and as he discovers her life of hardship, he comes to appreciate her all the more. Still, neither is willing or able to open their heart to the other. While they achieve a level of civility, they are not ready to give love or receive love.
After escaping from the rebels in the midst of Cromwell’s war, they are separated and Bess is kidnapped. Garrett rescues her and takes her, unconscious and sick, to his family’s estate.
As Bess recovers amid the love so freely shared by Garrett, his mother, and his sisters, she begins to know peace for the first time in her life. But while they accept her on one level, she still feels the outsider. Even when she and Garrett finally become intimate, they are not truly as one.
Soon, tragedy wrenches Bess and Garrett’s family apart. Garrett retreats within himself and hies himself back to the war. When he returns, he is a broken man. It is up to Bess to pull him back together. And it is here where Secrets in Satin fails. There is so much nuance and so many exquisitely rendered small moments in this book that I greatly appreciated. But by the time the author reached the end, a grander gesture was needed. Bess’ efforts to recreate her husband were small in scale, each day building upon the last. But the author never really provided much of a pay-off.
This book built itself up so wonderfully that the ending was a letdown. I shed a few tears when I should have been crying buckets. It was as though Bess’ impersonal nature had overtaken the author.
This book is quite an historical treasure-trove. I learned a great deal about the religious upheaval in England during the Cromwellian era and about the factions that split the country in civil war. While generally not a fan of romances filled with political intrigue, the excitement the author provided was strong enough to overcome my bias in that area.
Author Haywood Smith has crafted a beautiful and haunting tale. If you enjoy books with strong family relationships, this is the book for you. If you enjoy characters that are difficult to know but deserving of love, you will appreciate Elizabeth and her travails. If, as I do, you enjoy learning history without having it crammed down your throat, you will approve of the author’s weaving of history and story-telling. If you can appreciate a subtle love, you will enjoy Secrets in Satin. While vaguely incomplete, this book has so much to offer.