Lady Rachel Palmer is beautiful, wealthy, and frivolous--as well as betrothed to someone else--when she meets and falls in love with the high-minded Reverend David Gower, who is devoted to a life of service and poverty. It seems like an impossible match, especially when David is so set against it.
I started this book with great expectations. So far I have always enjoyed Balogh’s traditional regencies and I was planning on loving this one too.
But this book is very different from all the others I’ve read before by her. First of all it has a strong religious side. The hero is a vicar and extremely dedicated to his good works and helping his poor parishioners. And then there’s the fact that the heroine is rich and noble and the hero is poor and a second son and it’s the heroine that asks the hero to marry her and he is the one who refuses.
Rachel and David meet in London during the heroine’s season. They fall in love with each other but keep those feelings to themselves till eventually the heroine proposes believing her feelings returned. The hero refuses because he thinks she wont be happy as a poor clergyman’s wife. This leads the heroine to ask a childhood friend to marry her. Eventually she accepts that David loves her but wont marry her and that she must be true to her feelings – breaking the betrothal to the friend she doesn’t love – and dedicate herself to good deeds. Although the blurb mentions she is betrothed to someone else when they meet that is not true.
The second half of the book is about how both of them are dedicated to helping others, that they are happy and fulfilled and that they are resigned not to marry. Then David receives an inheritance that allows him to think of marriage to Rachel, but accepting it however will force him to give up his life as a poor vicar. When he proposes it’s Rachel’s turn to say no because she loves him too much to accept such a great sacrifice from him. It took a compromising situation for them to come to their senses and decide to marry.
Well I never quite understood why they couldn’t marry, yes the hero was poor but he was also part of the nobility and so an acceptable party. And in the end he is still poor when finally the marriage is arranged so I ended up thinking they could have saved all that useless self-sacrifice and just get on with it from the beginning. Or Rachel could have let him accept the inheritance and they could be both rich and do good deeds even if in a different place. I’m afraid that instead of being moved by their actions I was annoyed. And I kept thinking Rachel could have ruined Algie and Celia´s happiness.
Looking forward to hear other opinions from Balogh fans. And thank you I. for lending me yet another HTF oldie.