Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Review: The Admiral's Penniless Bride
The Admiral's Penniless Bride by Carla Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Sally Paul, a widowed lady's companion, is out of work and down to her last coin. Her knight in shining armor arrives in the form of Admiral Sir Charles Bright (R.N., ret'd.), who feels the need to marry immediately. He's bought a deceased Earl's orgy palace and needs a woman's touch to make it into a respectable home; also he needs a wife to keep his overbearing sisters away. Over time their marriage of convenience develops into something more...but Sally is keeping a secret that threatens more than their growing happiness.
The books starts off on a light tone --witty banter, the pornographic decor of the admiral's new estate--with underlying sad notes of the losses that Sally and the Admiral have experienced, and this counterpoint continues throughout the book. These characters are no longer young (in their 30s/40s) and their age and life experiences bring a mature note to this romance--like a fine wine, some things are better with age. Sally is a nurturer and the admiral, a kind man, mostly follows her lead. The story is set in 1816, during a postwar depression that modern readers can relate to. Jobs are hard to find. Sally not only hires those she can, but also makes friends who are able to stand by her in her time of need. She also nearly immediately sees that the retired admiral, an active man who, after all, bought a near-brothel so he could have a view of the sea, needs something important to do to occupy himself, and makes sure he has that. And he, in turn, is delighted to provide for his new wife, and eventually attempts to do something really important for her.
This book made me laugh and cry. I re-read my favorite parts immediately after finishing it. The history is accurate, or at very least close enough for me not to tell the difference (and I'm fussy that way). The plot develops organically from the characters and the situations. The only issue I had with it is that I would have liked to see more of Sally's viewpoint near the ending. But overall, I loved this book and you probably will too.
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