Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Carla Kelly - With This Ring

It was clear to Lydia Perkins from the first that she was courting scandal when she became involved with Major Samuel Reed. This outrageously impudent officer kept deplorable company in dismal surroundings beyond the boundaries of polite society. Even worse, he was shamelessly, sinfully penniless.
To keep him company would ruin Lydia's already slim chances in the marriage mart. To listen to the shocking proposal he made to her would spell ruin to her good name. To run away with him in a mockery of marriage on a honeymoon journey through the wilds of England was the ultimate folly for a young lady whose family demanded she wed both wisely and well.
Could Lydia say "I do" and accept the Major for better or for worse, or would she risk losing the only man who had ever captured her heart?  

Comment: I'm officially a fan of Carla Kelly. Two of her more recent titles don't seem that appealing to me, but her regencies do and this one was another good book.
This is the story of Lydia Perkins, a young woman whose family isn't at the top of its ladder but desperately tries to be so. Lydia's mother sets all her hopes on Kitty, Lydia's younger sister, a beautiful girl, and very different from Lydia, or at least in a way Lydia isn't described as being.
Lydia and her sister go to an old church turned hospital to volunteer helping the wounded soldiers that came from the war because important young ladies all do it to look good. Lydia, however, takes her task seriously and in no time she's helping and being sensitive about all the soldier's pain and state of being.
There, she meets major Sam Reed, a lord without many means but who tried his best to help his comrades, even delaying his own return home.
As things progress, Lydia can't be silent about how things happen at the hospital and one day she speaks about it, not knowing the consequences. When all seems lost, Sam helps Lydia in exchange for her help as well. They embark on a  journey to his house but on the way, can they fall in love?
I liked this book. As always, the author introduced a heroine whose behavior and attitude I enjoy seeing in female protagonists. I like how practical they all seem to be but at the same time it's wonderful to see them fall in love.
Lydia is a wonderful heroine, trapped in a house with a family that doesn't support or appreciate her. But she's not mean and reckless and tries to respect them, having the sort of mentality I enjoy seeing in historical heroines. I always prefer the quieter, practical ones to the silly "feisty" girls.
It was also interesting how Lydia, not being rich, had to make a choice at some point. I admire her and how honorable her behavior was even if scary as a future prospect. I have a soft spot for shy and practical heroines down on their luck but who can be brave and find a solution. I wish I were as brave as them.
Major Sam Reed is a good hero, not the best I've read by Kelly, but valiant and witty in his own way. I liked how he helped his comrades and wanted to make sure his men were all taken care of, even those who wouldn't make it, before accepting help for himself and going home to rest. A silly lie makes him propose a deal with Lydia but he finds out she's not like the other ladies that only pretend they care. Lydia makes him realize there are special women and people out there who deserve good things. He and Lydia may start as just adventure friends, so to speak, but we can clearly see love between them even before they admit it.
The romance is sweet and cute. I liked how both of them compromised on some things but were respected by their choices, their behavior and their feelings. I think Sam at some point reacts rather harshly towards something Lydia says and I think if they such a good understanding, the conversation between them didn't have to go that path, which led to a situation I found a bit exaggerated.
The romance was subtle, of course, but I wish I could have seen a bit more of their attraction. I know good men and women at the time wouldn't act obvious like in contemporary times, but it would have been  nice to see it a bit more.
The plot has many references to situations that certainly happened  during the post war. Even nowadays, it's difficult to deal with soldiers that come back, we just have more laws about how to treat people. I really liked how Lydia felt she should defend the soldiers for who they are and not just because they fought.
The secondary characters were very realistic and added the right amount of opposition to the heroes to make them look stronger in character. The helpful characters also had a great role and in some cases it was wonderful to see how important little things were, things we could see through friendship and support.
All in all, this was an enjoyable book, very entertaining and sweet and filled with situations that created scenarios in which I wanted to see what would happen next. Some details seem to have been dismissed, namely Lydia's family reply to her choices, which would give closure, but all things considered, it was a great book.
Grade: 8/10

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