Saturday, August 30, 2014
Admittedly, I am a fan of “all things Jane”- Jane Austen, Jane Eyre and yes ,even Jane Erstwhile from Austenland. And so to see another wonderful “Regency era” novel called Prelude for a Lord by Camille Elliot, arrive on the scene , well let’s just say it very much pleases my Austen-like sensibilities.
We meet 28 year old Alethea Sutherton, our heroine and a virtual spinster in this time frame, as she is unmarried and absolutely not wishing to be, which of course makes her an unconventional character from the get-go. Instead Alethea’s dreams are to be a master at the violin and move to Italy where she might study under true masters without ridicule. The violin of course was not seen as an instrument fit for women to play as it was considered unladylike, because an elbow might be seen and that in Regency England is a bit scandalous. Enter in Lord Dommick and his quartet who is down one player due to the war, , also a violin player and of the opinion that women should not be playing the violin…until he actually hears Alethea play. And even, Lord Dommick or “Bay” as his friends call him can see the depth of her talent. One element that adds to her playing is the unique and beautiful sound of her violin. It turns out that there is a mystery surrounding this violin as someone wants to steal it and works very hard to do so. As this puts Alethea and her family in harms way, Bay steps in to help protect her and a relationship starts to form.
There are many things to this story that I really enjoyed, obviously the conflict of the two main characters and the things they have to do to overcome to even begin a relationship. Bay is a man that is working so hard to hide secrets as he struggles with some post traumatic stress from his time in the war and fights to keep control in all situations. Because of times where he couldn’t, a former fiancé dubbed him the “Mad Baron” and he has been fighting that stigma and trying to do everything he could to right his family’s standing in society especially for his sister’s sake so that she would have a chance to marry well. Alethea on the other hand has all but given up caring what those around her think of her and only wants to escape to Italy where she can pursue her musical dreams. And so Bay ,who thinks he will never marry because of his secrets and Alethea .who has no idea of ever marrying and is only biding her time until she can leave for Italy , somewhow make an unlikely couple.
I thought this story was very well executed and had all the elements that I love in a good Regency novel plus a little bit more. In the Regency novels that I have enjoyed, it usually centers around a strong female character who is making the best of her situation which is usually not an optimal one for her based on the time frame and the fact that she is a woman. But through her strength of character, she is able to pull through. We definitely see that in the character of Alethea . Besides Alethea, Camille Elliot manages to give us other really interesting characters with some good depth to them, witty dialogue, and a lot of excitement and mystery surrounding the violin thrown in for good measure. I really enjoyed how both characters seemed to really help and compliment each other just by being who they were. And so I would recommend this one to those “fans of all things Jane” like myself. It was a lovely read!
I was given a complimentary copy of this novel by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.