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After enduring a loveless marriage to a man she married for money, widowed Cecilia, Lady Stone, finds herself chasing after her eldest son, whom she believes is about to make the biggest mistake of his life by marrying a Russian actress. But her plans to rescue him go awry when she wakes up alone, with her travel companion missing and all of her possessions stolen, in a public coach and in the company of a strange man. Clearly, she is in need of rescuing as well. Konstantin Levin cannot afford any delays or distractions as he is making his way towards London and towards a new life, but seeing how distressed Cecilia, Konstantin decides to help her.
Romancing Lady Stone is an aptly named romance: at 40, Lady Stone had never truly experienced passion or affection and she finds it in the most unlikely place and person. Russia and with an ex-convict named Konstantin, who is also a decade younger than she is. There is a moment in the book when Lady Stone becomes Cecilia, just Cecilia, and Delilah Marvelle did it with such beautiful clarity and purpose. It was such an intimate moment between our hero and heroine, to be just themselves without any thoughts of the past and of the future -- only feeling the weight of the present, the urgency of the now, the value of this moment -- I thought the author was able to express this sentiment quite poignantly. (Read Chapter 5)
A part of her soul liquefied. Her husband had never held her hand for the sake of warming it or for the sake of anything else. They'd never had that sort of relationship.
- loc 495
Truly, the author could have chosen to end her story here and I would have been satisfied but she ups the ante and further explores what happens next -- What happens when Cecilia and Konstantin's time together ends? Reality hits our couple quite painfully: she's nobility and he is rabble. There is no perceivable/conceivable way for them to be together if they decide to continue their relationship in London. Cecilia has to think about her young daughters who need a mother with an impeccable reputation and so she sacrifices her own happiness, her own chance at love, for their sakes. And, for Konstantin? After a life of causing others pain, of doing wrongful deeds, he finally has the chance at redemption but it is at the expense of his own heart.
The title is apt for another reason: Delilah Marvelle has written a romance in all its glorious fantasy. The characters are unapologetic in their belief in destiny, in signs and in the idea of true love. It's what makes this novella so much fun to read: it's love in its most unfettered form.
Incredibly good things were known to happen to a Levin at midnight.
- loc 43
As novellas go, this one delivers the complete package: a hero you can fall in love with; a conflict/situation that invites reflection; and a resolution that gratifies.
Favorite line: "Because if it looks cheap, it is cheap. And no one bows to cheap."
- the Duc de Andelot (a man who steals the show a bit), loc 1557
Romancing Lady Stone is part of Delilah Marvelle's The School of Gallantry series and hints at her forthcoming series, The Whipping Society. To find out more about Delilah Marvelle and her books, click below: