Desert Isle Keeper
The Beloved One
The Beloved One is one of those books that I could hardly make myself put down. You know how it is; you are supposed to eat and sleep now and then, but you’d much rather be reading! When I have that feeling, I know I have a desert isle keeper on my hands. Practically perfect from start to finish, The Beloved One keeps you on the edge of your seat as the plot twists and turns, and leaves you with a tear in your eye. It has a wounded hero to die for, a heroine to admire, and a wonderful cast of secondary characters as well. Who could ask for anything more?
Charles de Montforte is a Captain in the British army during the Revolutionary War. He is called “the beloved one” by the townspeople back home because he is so perfect; he always does just what is expected of him and never disappoints anyone. When he is wounded in the Battle of Concord, everything changes. Bizarre circumstances place him at the home of the Leighton family, who care for him during his slow convalescence. His most devoted nurse is Amy Leighton, who quickly comes to care for him. Amy has a precarious place in the family; her mother had an adulterous affair that resulted in her conception. She has two half-sisters who treat her like dirt, and her step-father allows it. Charles is outraged by the way Amy’s family treats her, and he feels very protective toward her. His defense of her angers Amy’s step-sisters, who want Charles for themselves after they discover his aristocratic roots.
Amy and Charles are attracted to each other from the beginning, but there are many obstacles to their happiness. Amy’s conniving sisters cause problems, and she also feels inadequate because of her parentage. Charles is even more troubled. Getting himself wounded is the first “imperfect” thing he has ever done, and it has destroyed his self-confidence. And there is another problem – right before the battle he became engaged to Juliet (the heroine from The Wild One), who is pregnant with his child. He doesn’t want to betray Juliet, but he can’t stop thinking about Amy.
The plot is very complicated, and it is hard to explain without ruining the many surprises in the novel. But by the time it is done Charles has been through hell and back, regained his self-confidence, and taken his place at Amy’s side. Watching Charles fall from perfection and struggle to accept himself is utterly spell-binding. He is so real, so human, that he fairly leaps from the pages. Danelle Harmon is a master at creating heroes that are handsome, brave, and loyal, but also flawed. It is Charles’s flaws and self-doubt that make him so fascinating, and so different from the typical hero, whose inner conflicts seem trivial in comparison. Amy is a fine character also, and her love and support for Charles are pivotal in turning him around. But in my opinion, Charles is the real star of the show.
Lately it seems like a lot of books have poorly placed love scenes. Often the problem is that they come too late in the novel, long after they are needed. Not so with The Beloved One. Both love scenes are right where they should be, and both move the plot forward. They are also wonderfully written; they really add to the book.
Fans of The Wild One will be pleased to see the return of the rest of the de Montforte family. One of the benefits of reading books in a series is that you get to know all of the characters so well. You get to see what happens to past heroes and heroines after their “happily every after” and you get to watch future heroes and heroines develop. Lucien de Montforte, who is Charles’s older brother and the Duke of Blackheath, is a calculating man who appears in both books, expertly manipulating his siblings. He seems cold and urbane, but is constantly motivated by his love for his family. He and the other family members provide an excellent backdrop for Charles and Amy’s story, but they never overshadow it. All the same, I am very impatient to hear Lucien’s story!
It is entirely possible to read and enjoy The Beloved One without having read The Wild One. I wouldn’t recommend doing so, however. The Wild One is really too good to miss, and there are certain plot developments that you are “in on” if you have read the previous book. You might as well buy them both, barricade yourself into your home, and order a pizza. The Beloved One is really a book to treasure, with the kind of character development that is rarely achieved. If you love it as much as I did, you be glad that there are still two more de Montforte brothers.