When We Meet Again
While When We Meet Again is a perfectly pleasant, perfectly readable historical romance, it’s also one that may play slightly better for readers who – unlike me – aren’t yet Effington-d out.
To be honest, I hadn’t realized how tired I was of the Effington family and their circle until I began this book and, since this is the tenth (tenth!) in the series, my lack of interest isn’t that surprising. Whenever and however it happened, historical romance these days is rampant with series-itis, and I’m starting to wonder if authors are getting quite as tired as readers are of it all. Well, this reader, anyway.
This time out it’s Pamela Effington’s turn. The victim of a cad who seduced her and then ruined her reputation by betraying her to the Ton, she’s spent the last six years traveling about Europe with her aunt and cousin, acquiring both a newfound maturity and a hard won resolve. Her determination to live her life on hew own terms is reflected by the fact that four years before the book opens, she took the bold step of spending one night with sexy Prince Alexei of the fictional (and familiar to Alexander readers) country of Avalonia. Despite her impetuousness in succumbing to her passion, Pamela, however, maintained enough presence of mind to disguise her true identity from the Prince and, even though she is unable to forget her night of ecstasy, she resolves to never reveal to the Prince the identity of his mysterious lover.
Prince Alexei is also unable to forget the night he shared with his unknown paramour. The intervening years, however, have not been kind to the once proud Prince since he is now exiled from his country and his family removed from power. Staying in London at a house he’s letted for the season, matters are made even worse for the young man and his entourage by the fact that the Bank of England will not release the fortune he needs to sustain his royal lifestyle until diplomatic matters with Avalonia are clarified.
Though Pamela is reluctant to return to the scene of her disgrace, an unexpected bequest brings the young woman along with her cousin and aunt back to London to claim the house and fortune they’ve inherited. What they don’t expect to find when they arrive is a displaced Prince in residence at their new home.
Eventually realizing that the Prince must stay for the near future, Pamela’s aunt soon devises a plan to ease the young woman’s reentry into society. As the fiancée of a prince, she argues, the memory of Pamela’s past indiscretion will fade far more quickly when Society gets a gander at the Very Big Fish she’s managed to land. The “engagement” will eventually be broken and Pamela then free to find a suitable husband. Though she is understandably reluctant, Pamela, as well as the Prince, agrees to the plan.
What elevated this book slightly above average for me was the decidedly adult interaction between Pamela and Alexei. Pamela is anything but a Spoiled Young Miss (and, believe me, I hate Spoiled Young Misses) and Alexei, too, is an intriguing young man. Of course, we all know where this story is going – this is a romance novel, after all – but the twists and turns of how these two interesting and likeable people get there help make this book readable.
But, then again, there’s the decided “we’ve been here before” feeling to the whole affair and the inescapable fact that I’m bleedin’ tired of this family – and, make no mistake about it, Effington family lore features heavily in this book and in others of the series. Honestly, if all this Effington-itis were a shade more Wallpaper-y I might find it a bit easier to take, but with all the appearances from familiar characters and sly references to past books found in the pages of this one, alas, that’s simply not the case.
Victoria Alexander is a talented writer of historical romance, but I’m sorry to report that When We Meet Again brought home to me quite forcefully that it’s more than time for this reader to check out of the Effington series. Until the author moves on, I’m going to have to.