Romantic Novella with Good Characterization
What a sweet and lovely story! Anna is the sickly daughter of an earl. Her mother and maid coddle her to the extent that she is not even allowed out of her bedroom most of the time. However, when the book starts, the entire family is off to enjoy a hunting party in the north. Anna makes the acquaintance of the owner of the house, the Duke of Richmond, while not knowing who he is. In this moment, the duke is able to just enjoy the company of a lovely young woman without her viewing him as one of the most eligible bachelors in England. They fall into easy conversation, and during the house party, they get to know each other better.
I really enjoyed this relatively short read. Even though it is a novella, the author actually has done a good job of characterization for both Anna and the duke. In the opening scene, Anna reveals some of her inner struggles as she relates what the landscape she is traveling through looks like; this was rather cleverly done exposition that creates empathy for Anna. We meet the Duke when he is in a brooding mood as well, so we learn a bit of his backstory and the emotion behind it. These are two wounded souls who come to find comfort, compassion, and genuine caring in each other. It doesn’t seem unnatural or forced, as it often does in a novella. Their relationship was lovely to watch unfold. While the duke was understanding of her delicate nature and frailty from years of ill health, he did not coddle her like the others in her life. They both knew that she wanted more than to be treated as an invalid, and he was good at making that happen for her. I thought the end was a little strange, as what the author called an epilogue really seems more like a continuation of the story (even if it was a few months later). I would have liked to have seen a proper epilogue. I would like to think that under the excellent care of the duke’s physician, as well as being in a loving relationship, Duchess Anna would continue to regain her health. A delightful historical romance with that setup that is different from most.