Thursday, April 22, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: Letters to a Lover by Mary Lancaster

 I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

Letters to a Lover by Mary Lancaster is a fast-paced historical mystery/romance set in Regency London. It’s book two in the Crime and Passion series. I didn’t realize this when I requested it from Netgalley, and might not have requested it if I’d known, because I don’t like to read a series out of order. However, this book works very well as a stand-alone.

Unlike most Romances, this novel begins with an already-married couple: Azalea (Lady Trench) and Eric Danvers, Viscount Trench. They have been married for eight years, have two young children, and are still very much in love. However, after the birth of her daughter, Azalea suffered from post-partum depression. (Very much not typical Romance fare.) Though he had no idea what was wrong, Eric supported her. Eventually, she emerged from the darkness of depression, but overcompensated by throwing herself into the social whirl of London. As she grew busier and giddier, she and Eric spent less and less time together. Both want to regain their previous closeness, but pride and fear keep them apart.

That is the backstory. The novel opens with Azalea confronting the terrifying scenario of memory loss. A portion of her life, one party in particular, is a blank. Apparently, she behaved very inappropriately because a man she barely knows implies they have an intimate connection. If that isn’t bad enough, she receives a letter from a blackmailer who claims to have passionate love letters that she has written. If she doesn’t pay him, he will expose her.

Azalea doesn’t know what to do. She doesn’t think she cheated on her husband, but she has this terrible blank spot in her memory, and something must have happened. Fortunately, Azalea’s sister and brother-in-law have some expertise in solving crime. (Backstory from book one.) Also, fortunately, her husband is devoted to her and is as determined as she is to figure out what is going on.

The plot is gripping enough and the pace was quick enough to keep me from dwelling on the bits that stretched believability. Amnesia plots are difficult to carry off, but her amnesia was limited enough and explained well enough that it worked. The relationships between husband and wife, and between Azalea and her sister, were heart-warming. The conclusion is satisfying.

And I must have enjoyed it because as soon as I finished I bought book one.

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