by Lynne Connolly, historical (2007)
Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 1-59998-532-2
Lynne Connolly has set up a conflict in Last Chance, My Love that is not an easy one for the couple to work out. You see, the Earl and Countess of Rosington had an arranged marriage but those two have become very fond of each other. However, Miranda's last difficult childbirth had a doctor telling them that marital relations between those two should be forbidden until Miranda recovers because delivering another child will surely kill Miranda. So for three years Daniel and Miranda share a house but never a marriage bed, slowly drifting apart... until Miranda gets a rude wake-up call when she spots Daniel in town acting intimate and comfortable with an opera singer.
Daniel is actually thinking of taking a mistress so Miranda's reaction to his plans (which is not favorable as you can imagine) causes that plan to go nowhere. But really, what can these two do to repair their marriage? It isn't just the lack of sex that is tearing these two apart - it's the two characters' eventual complacence in letting things be that did the trick. Perhaps a road trip due to wager that Daniel accepts (which see him and his wife posing as innkeeper and wife) will do the trick.
Apart from some small subplots that don't really add much to the story, the internal conflict is what drives the story. However, while I wish I can recommend this story to fans of, say, Jane Feather or Elizabeth Thornton, I have to point out that there are some big fundamental problems in the plotting and characterization that prevent me from fully enjoying the story.
The biggest problem I have with this story is Miranda. I have no idea who she is. In this story, she nearly all the time reacts to situation rather than initiates a course of action, and of the rare times she actually does something. Miranda's characterization is sketchy at best. She can smile in one paragraph and then cry two paragraphs later, making me wonder whether she's a robot whose emotions can be changed with the flick of a switch. I don't get any sense of who she is as a character which is problematic since this story could use a well-developed side of the story from her as well as from him.
Then I have a problem with the resolution of the story, which is a very convenient one that also leaves me wondering why oh why these two characters are content to let matters be for three years when they could be getting second or third opinions from other doctors and midwives. Maybe they are too busy brooding artfully to their problems, I suppose.
The story of Last Chance, My Love could have been interesting, but the characters feel underwritten and the plot is concluded too neatly and almost insultingly so. This could have been a very interesting dramatic historical romance, but instead I get a story where it seems as this is a play where the characters are actors half-heartedly working through a script in a mechanical manner.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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