With All My Heart
It’s hard to put my finger on exactly why I wasn’t enthralled by this book. The writing is clean and readable, the characters easy to like, and the mystery just mysterious enough. I think the key may be in the fact that despite its assets, this book is burdened by a “been there, done that” feeling. With All My Heart is simply no better or no worse than a hundred other Regency-set European historicals.
Worried that her dear friend David will be killed in a duel with war hero Lord Joshua Kenyon, Anne Neville drugs David and – dressed in breeches, of course – takes his place in the aforementioned duel. But even though Anne thinks Joshua is the worst kind of cad since he broke his engagement to David’s late sister on the eve of their wedding, he is, in fact, our hero. Noble guy that he is, he delopes at the duel and is, therefore, stunned to see “David” fall from a shot fired by a stranger who flees the scene.
It takes just a few seconds for Joshua to uncover Anne’s secret and, since the former soldier is also a doctor, he quickly assumes command and takes Anne to her home where he attends to our still unconscious heroine’s wounds.
When she awakens some hours later, Anne is less than ecstatic to find that Joshua has successfully charmed her parents by telling them he rescued her from a riding accident. She is even more disturbed when she learns that Joshua intends to discover the identify of the mysterious gunman, something that will necessitate his remaining in both her home and in her life. And, even though Anne finds Joshua’s concerns ridiculous, he also intends to make certain that David – not Anne – really was the gunman’s intended target. Despite their differences, however, both know the gunman needs to be found and, much to their mutual disgust (Anne doesn’t think it’s any of Joshua’s business and Joshua fears for Anne’s safety), the two are soon sorting through suspects and motives. And, since a plausible explanation needs to be found for the fact that they are often in each other’s company, Anne and Joshua find themselves posing as a couple falling in love.
Of course, there is more to the story of the broken engagement and his sister’s subsequent death than David has led Anne to believe. Equally obvious is the fact that, despite her feelings of antipathy, there is much in the stalwart Joshua for Anne to admire. As for our hero, the younger brother of the Marquess of Stokeford (Romancing the Rogue) and Lord Gabriel Kenyon (Tempt Me Twice), he is bruised and battered from the war and ready to lose himself in a far more routine and far less dangerous life. Since his experience with David’s sister Lily was far from a happy one, his reluctance to fall in love is more than understandable.
I liked both Anne and Joshua. As the sole sister in a houseful of brothers, Anne has resigned herself to spinsterhood and a lifetime spent taking care of others. Despite her occasional tendency towards toxic feistiness, she is an admirable heroine who deserves to find happiness. Joshua, as well, is a strong and appealing hero, even though he suffers from those familiar after-the-war nightmares that surely must have reached epidemic proportions by now. I also have to say that it was nice to once again find the “Rosebuds” in residence. As readers of the previous books in the series can attest, there is something charming about three elderly ladies – Joshua’s grandmother and her two close friends – who are still known by the collective nickname of their debutante days. Their presence adds greatly to the book.
So, what was my problem? Simply the fact that at no single moment did I ever feel that I was being taken to a place I hadn’t been many times before. If you enjoy European historicals, you could certainly do far worse – actually far, far worse – than picking up this book. Nevertheless, while With All My Heart is definitely a reliable read, it is by no means more than that.