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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

...well played Diana Quincy!

Engaging the Earl (Accidental Peers #4) by Diana Quincy  

Edward Stanhope, a second son, a talented musician, having been refused Kat's hand in marriage, determines to join the army, make his fortune and return home to marry his true love. 
Kitty (Kat), Lady Katherine Granville, 16 years old, knowing whom and what she wants, tries to persuade Edward to flee to Gretna Green.
Honestly, I wasn't sure here whether to applaud her here or see her a a spoilt young lady determined to have her way.
Edward, honourable and focused goes to war instead. Kat, seething with anger and hurt remains behind to become the toast of the ton.    
Six years pass and just as Kitty or rather it seems now Kat, has deigned to marry Laurie, Viscount Lawrence Sinclair, 'Sin' to his friends, Rand returns!
Now a decorated war hero, a survivor of Talavera, and having been given an earldom by the King, Kat first sights the man she has never forgotten on the occassion of her engagement to Sinclair.
Rand has not returned alone but with a Spanish woman, Elena, the Maid of Malagon, who is to receive a commendation of valour from the Prince Regent.
Rand is suffering from what was called Nostalgia (apparently this term was used still during the American Civil War and in the 1st and 2nd world war). It appears to be what we might call, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Quincy has cleverly used this condition to open up the storyline and add more complexity to the interaction between Kitty and Rand. It is a hook that invites responses.
Rand is not the only one to suffer from Nostalgia. Quincy's references to it, to the doctors who are studying it, adds an historical and emotional depth to the novel, recalling those terrible battles of the times, such as the Battle of Talavera, (Peninsular wars in Spain, July 27-27, 1809 with the British troops under the command of Wellesley).
I loved the character of Elena. Known as the Amazon! She is forthright and strong. Due to her extraordinary feats, and having been acknowledged by one of the highest in the ranks of British society, she is able to stand outside the norm and be accepted by the ton. It's her exotic difference that is both condemned and applauded. So ironic! And she seems to be laughing at the ton and their games, even as she engages in them.
Elena does remind me of the character of Sharpe's true love, Teresa Moreno, (of Bernard Cornwall books and the TV series fame). Be still my beating heart!
What shall become of the wondrous Amazon Elena and her latest paramour? 
The more I reflect on this novel, the more I am caught up in the complexity behind the storyline, given the various happenings that feed into it. Laurie is another unknown quality who hides his own story methinks.  And I haven't even mentioned the canine companion, Vera.
'Engaging the Earl' is a cleverly simple title. Playing with it in the context of what happens throughout the novel, watching the interplay, the dance between Rand and Kat, it is delightfully subtle on a number of levels. 
I must admit that there are some ends that I wanted tied up. But as I have said they're other stories, that might bear fruit or might forever be happening off stage.
For this novel, love does find a way!

A NetGalley ARC

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