I’m on a roll so I’ll write another.
The pandemic’s (among other historically relevant current events) impact on me has been anything but positive—what a shocker. My writing ceased; creating any art is arduous at best; and I’ve reduced my usual eclectic reading habits to the one genre that gives me hope—the historical romance genre. I set my Goodreads 2022 Reading challenge at 52 and have read 134 of mostly historical romance novels. I try to keep my expectations low in that challenge because it doesn’t put any undue pressure on me to do anything beyond the normal since I read every day/night anyway and find that kind of pressure self-induced and useless and not very conducive to dealing with the overall stress of the moment and on me and my well-being. There are so many things to stress over currently and that’s definitely not one of them. Be kind to yourself and others—we’re living through some tough times and instinct and experience tell me that it’s only gonna get worse.
The first Amalie Howard book I read was The Beast of Beswick and I was hooked. I tried to buy as many as I could on my limited budget (my budget limits me to buying books $5.99 or less and rarely anything over, especially beyond $7.99—I’m very sorry to the authors for that and will always try to give you some $$ rather than simply not buying or borrowing). I bought and read four in a row and these were the books that you attempt to devour in one sitting barring, you know, work and peeing and eating and such—yes, they were that good.
I love to read an author that can turn a phrase and make a sentence spark that’ll light my dull grey world—via descriptions or mind-melting, heart-stopping moments, emotions, interactions, or even with the thrill of social justice, the turn of a sentence is what makes an author a favorite and a reread, and Howard does it repeatedly.
What, you ask, is turn a phrase or make a sentence spark? I’m glad you asked. Here are a few:
As much as charm was a weapon, cynicism was her armor.
“Woman’s intelligence. The dread of the patriarchy and the scourge of the aristocracy. Provocative at best, deadly at worst.”
“When one is forced to adapt to difficult circumstances, innocence is the first casualty.”
“Beautiful things grow when there is joy and love, instead of resentment and anger.”
“When you need to do something to survive, it can lose its spark.”
Millicent’s face softened. “So it’s love, then?”
“All I know is that it feels like nothing inside of me works without her.”
This latest book connected to that part of me that can empathize with Nève’s love for ballet but the burnout she felt of having to do it for survival. There are few things that link or bridge you to another human being and that is one of them—how a connection to something so profound and life-altering can become such a burdensome chore when it depends upon survival. This, of course, can come in many forms but has a way of relating us to others like nothing else. I also liked Nève’s energy. I am the cynical, grumpy get-off-my-lawn curmudgeon type that would grumble and hiss at her if she were my friend, but she would be my friend regardless. I can hear Twitter now—”yeah, but would she be your friend?!” Damn Twitter has infiltrated my headspace!
She has two other series that she coauthors but I haven’t read those yet. I believe, like Reid, she does paranormal romance and I don’t really read that subgenre so there is that if you are interested. I highly recommend her and thank her for her words and talent.
The only critique I have is that this story ended too abruptly (as with Reid’s A Matter of Temptation). I would’ve liked to see Lysander go through his longing and learning before his revelation. Alas…
© 2022 Matilda London/Pamela Gay Mullins
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