Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I first became acquainted with the work of Elise deSallier when she was writing some of the highest caliber fan fiction I have ever read; her stories were positively addicting, and as I wrote review after glowing review, we began to correspond, especially regarding our experiences with chronic illness.
Then she republished my favorite fan fiction story, A Forbidden Love in two parts: Innocence and Protection. A few weeks ago, I reviewed these two volumes which together tell the tale of the lovely and brave Annaliese and her marquis. With such compelling characters and edge-of-the-seat plotting, I enjoyed the published novels just as much as (if not more than) the original fan fiction story.
After republishing her very popular and success fan fiction, Elise deSallier started writing a new series called Hearts of Honour, the first book of which is Passion and Propriety. When I read the opening chapter of this new book at the end of Protection, I was immediately hooked and quickly obtained a copy…which I read from first to final page in well under 24 hours. Yes, it was that good—and yes, it surpassed Innocence and Protection by a mile…even several miles. ;)
The unlikely heroine, Hannah, daughter of the village rector, nurses the cursed Viscount Blackthorn when he returns to his ancestral home to die from wounds encountered on the battlefield. Refusing to amputate his infected arm, William Blackthorn chooses to die rather than lose his limb and endure life as a cripple. Hannah enlists the help of her lifelong friend and talented herbalist, and together they save Blackthorn’s arm and his life.
Why does Hannah take on nursing a stranger in his ancestral home, unchaperoned? Hannah is nearly thirty and is considered by the townspeople to be a spinster; in addition, she recalls fond memories of playing with William when they were children. But William returns not only on the brink of death but also with a terrible curse: the wives of the last several Viscounts Blackthorn, including William’s own father, have lost their wives to childbirth. Thus, William plans to never marry and thus to carry the curse to his grave.
But thanks to Hannah’s dedicated nursing, he survives. And the events that unfold as the story progresses are riveting indeed. The characters are wonderfully human and believable; they stole my heart and my imagination immediately. The story lines are complex yet clear; each twist and turn is surprising yet makes perfect sense. (Caution: contains some detailed intimate scenes.) I was positively spellbound by this book, and I am thrilled that Elise de Sallier has at least two more books planned for this series. If they are as amazing as Passion and Propriety, I shall be a very happy reader indeed.
Link to Passion and Propriety Amazon page for purchase
Link to Elise deSallier's Amazon site
Link to Elise deSallier's Goodreads page
Monday, August 11, 2014
I originally read Elise deSallier's books Innocence and Protection as a fan fiction under the title Forbidden Love on FanFiction.net. Because I have always been enamored by Regency-era books (even before I read Jane Austen), I was immediately drawn into Ms. deSallier's story of a shy eighteen-year-old girl who is forced to escape when her father's heir comes to claim his inheritance by shooting her father. The heir then plans to force the girl to marry him, but under her father's direction, she flees with two servants to the safety of her father's best friend, a powerful duke.
However, the duke just left the previous day for an extended honeymoon with his new wife, and, assuming that her father is dead, the girl is forced to masquerade as a servant in order to stay in the duke's home. As her father told her to reveal her true identity only to the duke himself, the girl believes that she will be safe since the duke enforces an unusual policy against the family and guests in his home fraternizing with the servant girls, a true rarity in this time and place. Thus the girl believes that she will be safe until the duke's return. But then the duke's son, a handsome marquess, is immediately drawn to her despite her servant status and his father's firm policy against such fraternization....
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Innocence and Protection, but I must raise a caveat that there are graphic scenes depicting intimate acts. These scenes can be easily skipped over if reading them is problematic.
I enjoyed the original fan fiction so much that I read it three times, and now to read this tale as a published pair of novels is a real treat. The characters are unforgettable, the plot compelling, and the writing well-developed and polished. I prefer the plot of Innocence slightly more than that of Protection, but both novels work together to tell the story of a young, frightened, innocent girl rising to the occasion as she is caught up in various sorts of intrigue. Both books also deal with important social situations of the British Regency era as well: the abolition of the slave trade and the plight of young girls forced into untenable situations, either by employers or by slave traders of a different sort.
Thus, this pair of novels (and they must both be read together; they cannot stand alone) go beyond mere romance to explore the social situation of women in the Regency era. While the romance is the main story line of Innocence and Protection, the issues of marriage, power, class, and women's social position create a compelling and memorable tale that will not be soon forgotten.
Both books are available on Amazon in print and e-book form:
Elise deSallier's Amazon page
Elise deSallier has also just released the first book in the Hearts of Honor series called Passion and Propriety. I read an excerpt from this new book at the end of Protection and was definitely drawn into the story; I'll be reading and reviewing it in the near future.