Friday, July 26, 2013

Susanna Reads the Ritas - Inspirational Romance

An Heiress at Heart, by Jennifer Delamere

I'm still working my way through one nominee from each category in the 2013 Ritas, and this was my choice for the inspirational category. It's also a Victorian-set historical romance, something of a riff on The Return of Martin Guerre, about a heroine who discovers her half-sister, whom she resembles closely, in Australia. When the sister is dying, she begs Lizzie to go home to England and assume her identity to make amends to the family she ran away from. Lizzie does so, never expecting to fall in love with her sister's brother-in-law, who would be forbidden to marry her under 19th century British law if she was really who she claimed to be. But it's not like revealing her deception and her true identity as an illegitimate offshoot of her sister's family with a shady past in her own right is going to endear her to her ersatz brother-in-law or anyone else...

I enjoyed the book, though my inner historical nitpicker is constrained to point out that it has some linguistic anachronisms and Americanisms, and in a couple of places the titles and forms of address are off--basically, if a man is John Biscuit, the Earl of Crumpet, he's Lord Crumpet, never Lord Biscuit. The heroine meeting her half-sister in Australia was a large coincidence, but being able to pass as her made sense given their blood relationship and the fact no one in England had seen the dead sister in ten years. I'm not generally a fan of inspirational romances, since the evangelical market they're targeted toward has a different worldview than my Episcopalian mainline Protestant self. That said, I was comfortable reading this book because the inspirational aspects were handled with a light touch--the hero was a vicar until both his older brothers died, leaving him a barony, and we see his faith and desire to help others in the name of God, which the heroine comes to share. But it's more a book that holds conservative Christian views than pushes them, if you know what I mean.

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