The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell
Fans of tortured heros will love Simon Blackwell. Fans of independent heroines will love Lady Annabel McBride. Fans of pleasant, but formulaic romances will love The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell. Me – I just hope the next book I read has a bit of originality and and a few surprises.
Lady Annabel (Anne) McBride and her family are in London. Anne isn’t fond of London, but she is fond of her cousin Caroline and her family and a few weeks of hot London weather are a small price to pay. One morning Anne, Caroline, and her two young children are out walking when young Jack takes off running right into the path of a horse. Anne runs as as fast as she can but Jack is rescued by a man, who immediatly begins to berate Anne for being an inattentive mother. When Caroline catches up, she turns on the charm and invites the man, Simon Blackwell, to dinner. Anne thinks him a boor.
At the dinner, Simon and Anne glower at each other. Of course we all know that this means they are madly attracted to each other, and this proves to be the case. Simon and Anne meet again at a party for Simon’s Aunt Leticia and when they are alone, they kiss madly – overcome by passion. They are discovered, and naturally they must marry. After the wedding, they set off for Simon’s estate in Yorkshire – it’s a long trip and they stay overnight in several inns where Simon makes no effort to consumate the marriage. Anne thinks he is waiting to get home to make her his wife, but when they finally get to the estate, Simon makes a shocking announcement.
He will not consummate the marriage. No, he has no mistress. No, he won’t tell her why. Yes, he will allow her to divorce him after a year, but until then he will keep his council. Anne, who has fallen in love with the beauty of Yorkshire, Simon’s lovely home and Simon himself, decides to find out what the Big Secret is.
Anyone who has read a few romances can probably figure out what is torturing Simon. Yes, it’s sad and tragic, but Lord how that man did beat himself up over it. He spends most of book staying up half the night, brooding and drinking then rides around his estate during the day (evidently the man doesn’t need to sleep and lacks the hangover gene). No matter how much he tries, Simon can’t stay away from Anne. She is quite the busy bee and soon has made friends with the servants, hired more servants, and is ready to strip years of dust from the rooms. Simon pretty well lets her do what she wants until she mentions moving some rosebushes. That leads to Simon’s big confession of his Terrible Secret which brings out all of Anne’s sympathy and she determines that she is going to make the marriage work and make Simon happy. And Anne is a very determined young woman.
The Secret Passion of Simon Blackwell is full of brooding and angst. There’s not a lot of action and the book tends to have an incident happen – then the characters brood. Then another incident – they brood some more. Then another incident and so on and so on. I was able to predict exactly how the plot would go, and I wasn’t a bit surprised by anything that happened. This was a very by the numbers romance. If that’s your preference, this will be just what you are looking for, but I’d rather read something where the author painted outside the lines.