Fiery young “Nell” Belden went to Thorndene Castle to escape a lover, not to find one. She was bound by the strict conventions of England’s Regency to a man she could never love, then bound by the ties of passion to a man she could never marry! For at Thorndene, she discovered a new and startling love, a love that was as intense as it was doomed…
“You must leave Thorndene!” said the ghost. Then he added, more gently, “I come to warn you, not to harm you. I may never touch you, any more than a shadow may..”
“What does that signify?” Nell asked. “Since you are dead, you can have no need or inclination to touch me anyway.”
“You can’t know much about men-or ghosts-or how delightful you look in that nightdress, if you believe that,” he said with disturbing sincerity.
Nell blushed and pulled the bedclothes over her. For a long moment, neither of them spoke. Then, as suddenly as it had appeared, the ghostly figure was gone…
After seeing the 1979 publication date I was afraid this book would be full of literal bodice ripping and alpha-holes and old skool awfulness. But in fact it’s a lovely Regency romance with a feminist heroine and a good share of laughs.
- Nell is a strong character that has her head on straight. She calls people out on their bullshit and is determined to only marry for love.
- The hero appearing as a “ghost” is fun device that is executed well. There’s nothing domineering about Henry, a genuinely nice guy.
- While there’s a ballroom scene most of the action takes place away from society, allowing for a comfortingly small cast of characters. Everyone is fleshed out, from the housekeeper’s family to the suitor from hell.
- The whole book is just silly in a good way. Great aunt (or is it grandma?) Amelia is always good for a laugh and the action never gets too heavy or dour. Escapist romance for the win!
- The relationship between the hero and heroine’s families is a little convoluted and I’m still not sure I can explain it.
- The ending is rushed and only half-earned.
All in all a welcome diversion that reads quickly and leaves you smiling.