Maria's Reviews > Allegra's Song

Allegra's Song by Alicia Rasley
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's review
Mar 30, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-romance, free-kindle-book
Read from March 29 to 30, 2012 , read count: 1

Unlike most current Regency Romances, Allegra's Song takes place after the whirlwind romance and elopement of Allegra to Sir Nicholas Trent, a Lieutenant Colonel in Her Majesty's 52cnd Foot. The teenage newlyweds were separated early in the marriage because of Nicholas' deployment to Spain, and then France, to fight Napoleon's forces and the couple has experienced their ten-year marriage as a series of stolen visits and through the letters they exchanged. Allegra's love for Nicholas strengthens her as she has their child alone, takes care of his aging parents, and eventually maintains their estate after the death of her in laws. But now the wars are over; Nicholas has come home because of duty and doesn't know how to be present in his marriage, and Allegra doesn't know how to reach him to finally bring him home more than just in body.

His distance finally drives her to leave her son with her husband and retreat to their London home to seek the refuge she loves best: Her piano and the music she has been studying since she was a child. Lost and emotionally adrift, she begins a friendship with Simon, the Earl of Keverne, and rumors of a potential liaison sends her sisters Maggie and Yvette scrambling to London. Yvette decides that, at 23, it's time she marry so that she can take care of their spinster older sister Maggie; the search for a husband is the perfect distraction to get her sister Allegra away from the too-handsome Simon. The season is over, so their only opportunities for matchmaking are provided by house parties in the countryside. Off the sisters go to the home of the Duchess of Falconthorpe, who has invited Allegra to entertain her guests at her house party.

The sisters arrive at their destination and begin the husband hunt just ahead of a coldly furious Nicholas, who follows his wife and demands that she return home. But Allegra can't go home: She knows that any marriage she can have with her husband at this moment in time will be empty, with her going through the motions and slowly suffocating from grief over what she knows is missing. She tells her husband she is committed to the duchess and her sisters, and when she has finished with her obligations then, and only then, will she go home.

Nicholas knows something is horribly wrong, and he is wrestling with figuring out just what that is. He doesn't know how to express his loss of purpose, sense of disconnection, and ten years of deferred trauma and grief from constant war. He wants to share this with his wife, but the independent and mature woman he's come home to leaves him afraid to admit his weaknesses--and he responds by shutting her out. But he knows she is the love of his life, and he can't live without her, so it's up to him to figure out a way to fix it--fast--or he may lose her to another.

I really liked this story, which deals with an iconic event of the nineteenth century in a way that makes complete sense in a modern context, especially in light of ten years in Iraq and Afghanistan and the constant war American military families have suffered through. If I have one criticism it is that this book is too short: Allegra and Nicholas reach a new HEA quickly given the really big ideas of constant separation and threat of death, post-traumatic stress, and alienation. We know from the modern context that it takes a long time to recover from these events even with therapy and counseling. I really like Allegra and Nicholas, and a longer narrative (a full novel rather than a novella) would help lend authenticity to their healing and complete return to each other.

All in all, I thought this was a powerful story, filled with big themes and richer than most stories currently available in this genre. There are lovely glimpses of humor, and the true love does, indeed, feel true.

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