Judith’s review of Lord Atwood’s Lovers by Eva Clancy.
To the rest of the ton, Lord and Lady Atwood seem to have the perfect marriage. They wed for love and their marriage bed doesn’t lack for passion—but Imogen is haunted by the memory of her first marriage…while Charles harbors secret thoughts and desires he’s been unable to confess to his wife.
Then Charles’s ex-lover, Alexander Lambert, arrives in town, throwing Charles into a tailspin—and awakening a surprising attraction in Imogen. Now, both have to face the possibility that they may need more than just each other to be truly complete.
This MM/F menage romance is classified as a “spice brief” by the publisher and as such I was not initially of a mind to read it. Short stories are often very good, but I think of so many situations, additional scenes, etc. when I am reading them that I get irritated and then don’t enjoy the story. But this is a historical romance and several reviewers referred to is as a novella which made it just a bit more interesting, so I took a chance. It is one of those stories that starts off with two people who are deeply in love and very happily married. Not the context of a great many Regency historicals. Yet this couple were shocking in their admiration for one another and their joy in one another was genuine. Now I not only like HEA endings, I also like to read about people who find ways to make their relationship work as a happy way of living and so it seemed with these two. But there really was a hitch on the way in the person of a man for whom Lord Atwood had a deep affection and one that had involved him in a gay affair before his marriage.
The potential for disaster is certainly there in the story but it is surprising that Imogen, Lady Atwood, also has her secret, not in a hidden lover, but her fond–let’s be honest, her passionate memories of her first husband and while he isn’t exactly a presence in the marriage bed, those memories continue to bother her to the point that she is worried that their reoccurrence will ultimately sour her present relationship. So both husband and wife have inner conflict, and it is just that impasse that makes this story more than just the narrative of a happy and passionate marriage romp.
All writers and serious lovers of fiction know that it is the crisis that sets the tone in the story. It would appear that these two didn’t really know how to work this out–something was missing for both of them. It is that impasse, that seemingly intractable difficulty within both Lord and Lady Atwood that made this story work for me and kept me moving forward in the story. Another surprise was that as short as this work is, it is surprisingly complete with out a rush to the end or passing over important characteristics of the story in the name of brevity. Thus is was a very entertaining reading experience and as one who likes historical fiction anyway, I was pleased that this brief but delightful novella crossed my desk and I was able to fit it in easily.
We all probably like the weighty and complicated novels as they are the “meat and potatoes” of romance fiction. But a lovely little literary “snack” like this one is a reading delight and brings a bit of relief from the heavy-handed, no matter how much we like it all. So I recommend this as a bit of historical reading that will lighten the day as entertainment when time is short.
I give it a rating of 3.25 out of 5
This book is available from Harlequin Spice Briefs. You can buy it here