Thursday, March 21, 2013

Book Review: Salt Redux


I know I was one of the first people (lucky me!) to review Lucinda Brant's new novel, Salt Redux, because I received an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy). I love historical romance and always counted Georgette Heyer among my favourite authors, for her wonderful portrayal of the Regency era. In my mind, Lucinda Brant has done the same for the Georgian era, a time in history that perhaps has never had the publicity it deserves. Rich and vibrant, and an age of great initiative, political expansion, and economic growth, the finer details will not escape readers in any of Ms Brant's fabulous books.

Salt Redux
Salt Redux is the second book in the Salt Hendon series, following on the loves and lives of the Earl of Salt Hendon and his Countess, the beautiful Jane. In the four years since their marriage, much has happened. Love and three children later, they think that happiness eternal is theirs and nothing can destroy their idyllic life. The earl’s cousin, Sir Antony Templestowe, has endured four years of exile in Russia, in the guise of a diplomatic posting. Battling with his addictions, he has come to terms with himself, and his undying love for the earl’s sister, Lady Caroline. Lady Diana St. John, the earl’s nemesis, and a murderess, has been carefully incarcerated in a remote castle in Wales as the only way to prevent her previous sins from being discovered by society, and to prevent her from committing further wickedness. This is possible because Lady Diana is, unfortunately, quite mad. She is obsessed with becoming the true Countess of Salt Hendon, and dislodging the woman she considers the usurper to her title, that is Jane. She has had four years of careful scheming and preparation. Once she escapes imprisonment by pure Machiavellian ingenuity and diabolical plotting, Diana arrives back in their lives with plans of her own, plans that include death and destruction. Will she succeed, and will happiness and love be restored or ruined?
Lucinda Brant never fails to please readers of historical romance with her lavish portrayal of her niche arena: the Georgian era. Such are the minute and careful details that the era itself becomes almost like a character in the book. However, the characters themselves tug at the heartstrings with their intense feelings: love, anguish, desire, and drama abound as various sub-plots play out in a background to the main story. The richness of the prose and the attention to all that drives the story make this a wonderful read. Tension mounts as Lady Diana proceeds with her plot to unseat Jane. The story is multi-layered and threads from the past are seamlessly woven into current events. Salt Bride was the first Lucinda Brant book I reviewed and I loved it. What a pleasure to revisit ‘old friends’ in this sequel. Although readers can enjoy the book as a stand-alone, I would recommend their reading Salt Bride first to fully appreciate the poignant aspect of the earl and his bride’s love story from the start. Highly recommended. Five stars. First reviewed for Readers Favorite

In case you missed my review of Salt Bride, the first in the Salt Hendon series, here it is:
Salt Bride
The Earl of Salt Hendon, with good looks, fortune, and the reputation of a lover par excellence, could have any woman he pleased just by crooking his little finger. So when he seemingly lost his reason and married a squire's daughter, Jane Despard, Society is aghast. Despite being a noted beauty, Jane's reputation is clouded, an incident in her past having cast a shadow over her marital prospects. What Society does not know is that Jane and the Earl share a dreadful secret: a past encounter that brought them both nothing but misery, misunderstanding, and mistrust. Their marriage four years after that encounter is sealed so that the Earl can discharge a promise to a dying man and Jane can save her stepbrother from financial ruin. Jane holds out the hope that the Earl will finally come to love her. Her husband, alas, is deeply influenced by the scheming Diana, Lady St. John, widow of his cousin and the mother of his nominated heir, his young godson. Can Jane's love prevail and will the Earl finally open his eyes to the Machiavellian manoeuvres of the wicked Lady St. John?

It is the year 1763 and King George III is on the throne. Georgian aristocratic life is synonymous with elegance and a devil-may-care pleasure, and the upper classes enjoy a kind of amorality in their love lives. Men, and women, are inclined to take their pleasure where they choose. It is this angle, the tawdry underbelly of high society that the author captures so brilliantly in this eminently readable novel. The rakish, raucous character of the Georgian period is contrasted superbly with the sophistication of the age. The author has created a love story that fans of historical romance will relish. Details of the politics, manners, social mores, and dress are deftly interspersed within the plot lines to fully flesh out the era and the people in it. The author's characterization, even with secondary characters, is accurate and believable. The plot is complex and interesting; the author guides the reader through the maze of misunderstandings without ever giving the game away. The dialogue is witty and sparkling, with the characters' words often belying their actions and vice versa, thus further adding to the love confusion. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it. Five stars. First reviewed for Readers Favorite 

by Fiona Ingram
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