Some authors stand out in the romance genre for me, for various reasons. Laverle Spencer, for her unique characters and situations, for example. This...moreSome authors stand out in the romance genre for me, for various reasons. Laverle Spencer, for her unique characters and situations, for example. This novel by Laura Kinsale reminded me of Spencer's best work in that regard. I even found myself telling my husband about the story as we painted this weekend, it was so engaging.
I hate to review romances, because they are usually so formulaic, but this one is worth mentioning. Aside from the hero being a duke and a womanizing rake (of course), he is also a mathematician and a stroke victim. I think it says a lot about the way the author handled this that I even read this book. I am a health care professional and if she'd really romanticized his condition or botched the symptoms, I'd have been unable to enjoy it. She did a great job of representing real challenges (he suffers from expressive and receptive aphasia, unilateral neglect, slurred speech,and some personality changes/mood swings) while keeping him desirable. There was enough geometry in it for me to know that she must have worked with an actual mathematician on this novel, or she's very gifted. Because he can't talk effectively, we spend a lot of time in his head, and the author does a fantastic job of making him muddled but understandable, and showing incremental improvements.
The heroine is a Friend, or Quaker. I almost put this book aside in the first few chapters because of of the Simple Speech (thee, thou, wouldst and canst) and the seemingly random capitalizations, which turned out to be Quaker terms. I got used to it, though, and the author used the Simple Speech to good effect in character development. Her stubborn egalitarianism is frustrating, courageous in the face of aristocracy, and eventually endearing. I felt like I understood a little bit the attraction and comfort of being in the Society of Friends, which is threatened by her involvement with the duke.
I like to see utterly broken people redeemed by their relationships, and this romance delivers. (less)