Thursday, January 4, 2018

Double Review: ROMANCING DAPHNE & FOR ELISE by Sarah M. Eden


Once upon a time, I had the pleasure of attending the writers conference LDSStorymakers and meeting a few real-life literary heroes and heroines, aka prolific authors. One of those I have never been able to forget was the witty and charming Sarah M. Eden. She gave a riveting presentation about writing romance a la Pride & Prejudice, and ever since then, I have meant to check out her recency romances for myself. Because clearly, here was a woman who understood romance and the psychology of relationships. Every time I have passed her books on display at my local library, I have wanted to get one, but for the past few years, books on education theory took precedent over books I desperately wanted to read! So I told myself to wait and someday I would sit down and curl up with a Sarah Eden book. Last week I was at the library and decided our January family screen fast was the perfect opportunity for me to kick start 2018 by reading for fun! I read FOR ELISE and ROMANCING DAPHNE on January 1st and January 2nd, and they absolutely warrant an Afterglow Review. 

ROMANCING DAPHNE by Sarah M. Eden
The blurb: 
As her first London Season looms before her, the thought of the impending social whirl fills Daphne Lancaster's timid heart with dread. She hasn't her sisters beauty nor their talent for conversing easily. Even her family's enviable connections may not be enough to prevent disaster.

But Daphne's misery turns to surprised delight when the first event of her Season brings an unexpected visitor to her door—James Tilburn, whose tender kindness stole her heart in her youth. When the handsome young gentleman expresses his desire to court her, Daphne is elated. Their feelings for each other quickly grow, and it appears that, much to Daphne s disbelief, her happily ever after is within reach.

Yet nothing is as it seems. The couple finds themselves caught in a tangled web of greed and deceit, leaving James and Daphne to determine whether they are willing to risk everything for true love.

The Afterglow: I laughed at the near-constant wit and sarcasm displayed by all my favorite characters, and relished the mushy love stuff that was obviously left over from Books 1 and 2 of the Lancaster Family series. I absolutely love that there are more books involving these characters for me to love. And this book has made me even more excited to read Seeking Persephone and Courting Miss Lancaster. Daphne is a heroine most readers will readily relate to, introverted and sharp as a tack, self-deprecating but brave and compassionate. Sarah Eden weaves a beautiful story about the uncertainty and humiliation of dating, excuse me -- courting -- during a London Season. But it's also about the family dynamics, power plays, and economic factors that controlled everything but our hero's and heroine's hearts. I found myself rooting for this couple from the beginning, and hoping despite the odds stacked up against them, that they would finally follow their hearts. One of the notes I took from Sarah Eden' s LDSStorymakers presentation was to create romantic leads who fulfill something in the other person which is desperately lacking, to fill the holes and the weaknesses with the other person. Sarah M. Eden does this masterfully in ROMANCING DAPHNE. I read it in a day and felt a little sad to say goodbye to these enchanting characters. 
I can recommend Sarah M. Eden's regency romances to everyone! They hearken back to the style of Jane Austen, and any impropriety is implied rather than explicit. Read with confidence, young and old.



FOR ELISE by Sarah M. Eden
The blurb: 
They were inseparable in their youth, the very best of friends, two halves of a whole. For four years, Miles Linwood, the Marquess of Grenton, has felt incomplete without her. When a carriage breakdown leaves him temporarily stranded in a tiny town, Miles makes an unexpected discovery that will alter the course of his life, and rewrite the pages of his past.

The Afterglow: 
With possibly the most meaningful meet-cute of all literary time, For Elise is a story that shows powerfully the impact of a single moment's decision, and the ripples that go out from that decision. Elise is a broken character, suffering from post traumatic stress and convinced of the necessity of her own exile. Miles is a philanthropic marquess with a troubled history that more than dovetails with Elise's past, but the trouble is neither of them has a perfect memory of what happened in the aftermath of a shared trauma. This device, using infallible memory and the hallmarks of trauma as the primary driving conflict, is one of the things that makes this story memorable, and keeps readers thinking about it long after the cover is closed. It made me wonder what interactions I remember imperfectly -- likely all of them, since I only experience my own feelings and am left merely to interpret those of the other person. Imagine years going by while those false interpretations are left to simmer and stew in the broth of continued misery. Sarah Eden imagines just that, with the stroke of a skilled pen rendering Miles and Elise eminently believable as people you might meet on the street. And that meet-cute! It certainly left me with wondering thoughts about what might have happened if decisions were made differently.
I recommend this one to readers who can handle the mature themes of violence and trauma. There is, after all, a murder mystery within these pages, not to mention the occasional social violence of upwardly climbing mothers of single daughters.

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