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Rondo Allegro

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  323 ratings  ·  61 reviews
At the end of the eighteenth century, all of Europe is at war.

In Palermo, sixteen-year-old singer-in-training Anna Maria Ludovisi is married by her dying father to Captain Henry Duncannon, the Perennial Bachelor. Mere minutes after the wedding he sets sail.

The threat of French invasion causes Anna to flee to Paris. At the end of the Revolution, Napoleon Bonaparte is transf
Published September 9th 2014 by Book View Café (first published September 5th 2014)
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4.01  · 
Rating details
 ·  323 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
I was re-reading parts of this book in preparation for writing this review, and sometime around 2 am, when I forced myself to turn off my Kindle and walk the dog (who'd been waiting patiently for about three hours for me to quit reading) and go to bed, I remembered why I like Sherwood Smith's writing so well.

It would be easy to say that "Regency marriage of convenience story," and that wouldn't be inaccurate, but it would be unfair. This story is so much more than that.

Anna Ludovisi is not qui
Sherwood Smith
Sep 09, 2014 added it  ·  (Review from the author)
Shelves: my-books
The impetus behind this story was to novelize the delightful journals of Betsey Wynne (with entries by two of her sisters), which I reread every few years. She had such a fascinating life, which began as a young girl in France as her restless dad used his fortune to extend his Grand Tour for his entire life. Betsey and her sisters learned from an early age to speak English, French, German, and Italian.

When the French Revolution occurred, they were near the French border, desperate for news from
I'm going to rate this one, despite my own sensible policy of not rating books by friends, family, and other animals, and may revert once (!) this has more five star reviews. Initially, every rating counts, and if I can't break my own rules, why do I have them?

Tongue out of cheek again, this was as delightful as the wonderful Danse de la Folie and yet completely different. For one thing, this has the slowest, binary opposite-est of instalove romantic plot imaginable. Lest it not be immediately
Jacob Proffitt
Jun 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance, chaste
I kept having to remind myself that I was in Sherwood Smith's capable hands through the course of this story. Smith skirts a number of romance tropes (long separation, different worlds, buried secrets, big misunderstanding, unknown/disguised crush, rival with previous claim) in the course of the story—with many opportunities to crash and burn. Or, worse, indulge in cliché or trite machination. She turns all of those into opportunities that enhance the story, though, and I ended up enjoying it im ...more
Rosamund Hodge
Sep 07, 2014 added it
Shelves: 2014
This is an elegant waltz of a book. The summary makes it sound like high melodrama--Sudden arranged marriage! The war sweeps them apart for years, then reunites them when they've nearly forgotten each other! CAN THEY FIND HAPPINESS?--and yes, those tropes are there. (Which is great, because I love those tropes.) But the tropes don't play out in exactly standard fashion, because this is not a novel of romantic suspense, where you're dying for them to just kiss already. This is a thoughtful, fasci ...more
Melissa McShane
It took me a couple of chapters to really warm up to this--the beginning skips around between POVs too much for my comfort, and overall it felt a little awkward--but then I really couldn't stop reading. What really makes this work is the main character, Anna, who from the beginning has to find ways to survive in a society that could easily eat her alive, and manages not only to survive but to rise above her circumstances in every situation. I loved the depiction of the troupe and all the people ...more
Abigail Bok
Mar 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is the start of the nineteenth century, and all Europe is in upheaval. Admiral Nelson is at the court of Naples, carrying on with his mistress, Lady Hamilton. A young captain of the British Navy is compelled to marry a stranger, a half-English teenager whose parents were minor functionaries at the Neapolitan court, so his superiors can obtain a piece of intelligence from her dying father.

So begins Sherwood Smith’s epic Rondo Allegro, a wide-ranging picaresque novel that sweeps across Italy, F
katayoun Masoodi
Jun 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
4 1/2 and i loved it.
at first it starts maybe a bit slow, though you soon find that it's not slow, but beautiful meausered steps, exactly as they should be at first you think it's another historical romance, a lovely one but just another one (and i love them, no mistake) and then with everything happening you find it just a little bit more, it's historical romance, yes and it's beautifully writen, yes and then it's just something else also, so real and different and everyone acting like they sho
Rachel Neumeier
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Anna carries the story, with rather brief bits from Captain Duncannon’s pov. The story is divided into three sections: Anna, married but completely separate from her husband, basically on her own, growing up and surviving as an opera singer; Anna, reunited with her husband, each of them just getting to know the other — this section is brief but important; and Anna in England, playing the role of Captain Duncannon’s wife while waiting for him to return to his home.

During the long first section, I
Hannah Cobb
Feb 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sixteen-year-old Anna Maria Ludovisi dreams of becoming a great singer, but her dreams run aground when she finds herself married to an English Navy captain in a confusing blur of politics and grief--Captain Henry Duncannon is roped into the affair for political reasons, Anna because her dying father wishes her to return to her English mother's homeland. The marriage of convenience lasts barely a day before the captain is called back to his ship, and Anna is left to find her way in the turbulent ...more
Sep 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read another of Sherwood Smith's books, Danse De La Folie, last year in five hours, one lazy Sunday and ADORED it. I'm a sucker for an expertly crafted Regency :) When goodreads notified me that she had a new book out, Rondo Allegro, I bought it right away. I tend to rip through books that I really like and I knew this one would be no disappointment, so this time I promised myself I would ration it. My goal was one week start to finish.

I fell short by five days.

It was captivating!

The charac
Dec 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
When sixteen year old Anna's father is dying in Naples he arranges for her to be married off to a sea captain in Nelson's navy. Henry Duncannon is a penniless officer estranged from his good family, who is more or less forced into the marriage of convenience. Within half a day the two are separated as Henry heads back to sea, leaving Anna under the protection of Lady Hamilton. But war is flowing through Europe in the shape of Napoleon's armies and soon Anna is left alone - with her faithful maid ...more
Howard Brazee
Sep 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting regency romance written by an author known for her many fantasies. She does have another regency romance which I liked.

This book is interesting in where the action takes place.

It starts off with a very young Italian marrying an English captain at the request of Admiral Nelson. Both parties expect to quickly annul the marriage, but he goes off to sea, and she uses her training to sing with an Opera group (even though ladies don't do that), going across Napoleon's France and
I’ve read this book twice cover to cover and skimmed to my favorite parts countless times.

Some may feel that it starts slow, and I have to say that the first time I read it I worried that that the romance part would take place in the last five pages and be very disappointing. This is because the OTP of this story only meet twice in the first half of the novel. The first time being at their own wedding.

Taking in the complete story this is actually a good thing. Anna Ludovisi is 16 when she is
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
Sherwood Smith is a very good writer, and this is going to appeal to some people. It just didn't do it for me, at all. If you're into historical fiction set during/before the Victorian Era (think Pride and Prejudice), you'll probably get a lot out of this. As someone who doesn't particularly care for historical fiction, though, this book completely failed for me. The story is aimless, slow, and just plain boring. It's not episodic exactly - one event does lead to another - but there's no arc to ...more
Mar 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
A pleasing concoction. A cross between Georgette Heyer and Patrick O'Brian, with a dash of Jane Eyre.

Not in quite in the same league. It needed more misunderstandings and conflict. There was never any doubt they'd end up living happily ever after together. Satisfying all the same.
Nov 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This is very slow initially - too slow for me to consider it deliberately paced - but ultimately Rondo Allegro is a sweet, low-key story. The history could be doled out better, because there were a few pages where my eyes glazed over; also, I suppose everyone's easy acceptance of Anna's past feels a bit unlikely, and it would've been nice if she hadn't been able to win over everyone (except the antagonist) immediately. Still, despite the inevitability, this is really enjoyable reading.
Corinne Matthews
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a good book. I think Sherwood Smith generally does a better job writing about worlds of her own creation, but as light Regency romantic read (for it isn't a romance, in the sense of heaving bosoms and all that, but contains a very touching, understated love story), I very much enjoyed it.
Jun 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dorothy Mitchell
I enjoyed this book even more than Sherwood Smith's other period novel, Danse de la Folie, which was enjoyable if not precisely my perfect cup of tea. This one, however, was utterly perfect for me, as I am a total sucker for marriages of convenience that turn out to be much more meaningful than they at first appear. This story explored some more unusual aspects of the historical setting such as English Navy culture and theater culture through the eyes of a multicultural, talented, and versatile ...more
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Enjoyable and engrossing. The first book in a while that I didn't want to put down.
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
It took a little to get into it, but I really liked the main character.
Apr 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: hist-chick-lit
Enjoyable if slightly unbelievable plot. Characters were interesting and developed over the course of the story.
Mar 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
I'm wavering between 3 and 4 stars. I really liked this book, but had a hard time feeling like I knew the characters (or felt anything for them) until more than halfway through the book. Regardless, I thought the time period and her life as an opera singer was very interesting. A slow-moving story, but that did not decrease my enjoyment.
Aug 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a largely character-driven story of two strangers, married almost by coincidence, then separated again for years, only to discover that they might be meant for each other all along.
The story follows Anna Ludovisi and Henry Duncannon. She is the sixteen year old daughter of an Italian musician at the Neapolitan court, he is the English captain of a ship in Lord Nelson's fleet. In order to get vital information on the French position from her dying f
Patrice Greenwood
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ever since I heard about Sherwood Smith’s new romance Rondo Allegro, I looked forward to reading it. I’ve just finished with the book and it hasn’t disappointed. Set in the Napoleonic era, the novel is a lush and sometimes sobering depiction of a time of great upheaval in Europe. The heroine, Anna, roams over war-torn Italy, France, Spain, and then experiences true terror aboard an English ship in the midst of the naval battle of Cadiz.

The book dances around Anna’s very unromantic marriage of co
Jessica Daw
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: to-buy
A delightful look into the early Napoleonic era, with a great love story and a whole cast of delightful characters.
Stephanie G
Jun 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really liked this one! It's a fun sort of naval romance (a la Persuasion, but not as Austen, if that's a thing!). There's some very solid character development in Anna Maria, Perrette, Therese Rose, and Harriet. I wished that we would have had a bit more Captain Duncannon, because besides a few "women are all deceptive, I have no need for them in my life" instances, he's pretty much just besotted with Anna after they meet for the third time. That's nice, but I would have loved a little more.

Jan 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
I enjoyed the setting for this--it was fun to be in the Regency-ish era but on the continent instead of just in England.

I loved the main characters and their journey to get together.

One complaint was that the middle section of the touring opera company dragged on for too long.

Feb 2019:
I read this again, and I had a very different experience with the book this time around. I think because I knew that it was a long, long time before the main characters get together I was a lot more patient with
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Regency historical romance. Anna Ludovisi, a young Italian-English singer, and Henry Duncannon, an English naval captain, contract a marriage of convenience during the Napoleonic Wars. For Henry, it's simply another duty: England needs military intelligence that only Anna's dying father can provide. For Anna, it's obedience to her father's dying wish for her to have safety and security. The couple is separated first by Henry's naval duties, and then by the hard realities of war, and only reunite ...more
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