Title: Tremaine’s True Love
Author: Grace Burrowes
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes introduces a brand new gorgeous Regency Romance series featuring the Haddonfield ladies and their loves.
He's had everything he could ever want ... until now
Wealthy wool magnate Tremaine St. Michael is half French, half Scottish, and all business. He prowls the world in search of more profits, rarely settling in one place for long. When he meets practical, reserved Lady Nita Haddonfield, he sees an opportunity to mix business with pleasure by making the lady his own.
Nita Haddonfield has a meaningful life tending to others, though nobody is dedicated to caring for Nita. She insists the limitations of marriage aren't for her, then Tremaine St. Michael arrives-protective, passionate, and very, very determined to win Nita's heart.
* * *
I thought it was very bold of Grace Burrowes to declare in her title that she was writing about one of her character's true love -- but, as I read through the novel, I realised that Tremaine does discover exactly that: his true love. But, how do Tremaine and Nita (and we) know that it is true love?
Tremaine is a man with a mind focused solely on business, and Nita is a woman with a heart focused solely on helping others. Tremaine, being half-French and half-Scottish at this very awkward point in history has very little family to speak of, and is estranged to the ones he knows of. Nita has family -- a very large, very meddlesome family that has extended to include well-meaning, yet, equally meddlesome spouses. It's two very different worlds struggling to become one.
And Grace Burrowes accomplishes this synthesis of opposing personalities and paradigms without raising a voice.
It's the first thing I noticed when I was reading: there is a deceptively light tone (and touch) to this story. It tackles a very dramatic theme, but the drama within the novel is very subdued and we get whispers instead of histrionics. A lot of this has to do with Nita, brave and noble Nita, who quietly pursues the work of tending to the health and welfare of her brother's tenants at the expense of her health and reputation. She is doing this at a time when women were NOT doctors, and were NOT supposed to pursue any sort of medical work outside of making poultices or creams. Nita is very, very good at what she does -- and, while she has earned the town's custom, she realises she has not truly earned their trust or their respect.
"...Martyrs have many admirers but few friends, Lady Nita, and worst of all, they never have any fun."
- loc 642 to 655
This is Nita's tragedy: she is doing heroic, unselfish work, but no one recognises her heroism or appreciates her skills. We've heard the expression "So-and-so will be the death of me ..." and we don't put much weight on it -- but Nita's brother's have said this of her, and, whether it's meant in exasperation or frustration or concern or humour, there is truth to it.
And this is the other side of Nita's altruism -- the very selfish aspect of her charity. During any of Nita's visits, she could contract any number of diseases, and then spread it to the rest of her family. With babies on the way, and with young Haddonfields running around, like the sword of Damocles, the possibility of illness (and death) loomed over their entire family.
The medical calls were taking a toll on Nita, on the entire family, in fact. Nita had been plump as a younger woman, sturdy and rounded. She was nearly gaunt now, and her mouth was grim far more often than it was merry.
Addy Chalmers had an unfortunate fondness for gin. Had Nita acquired an unfortunate fondness for misery?
- loc 2309
Tremaine is a really wonderful character -- is quite a progressive thinker and is a man who is learning from the mistakes of the past. When he was a boy, his mother left (abandoned) them in Scotland at the mercy of their grandfather, so she could return to France and be with Tremaine's father. Both his parents died during the turmoils of the Napoleonic Wars, so he's seen how the passionate pursuit of something could destroy a person and his family. How, then, does Tremaine figure into Nita's well-structured, disciplined, very self-contained, yet tense life?
Initially, he did not want to be involved. He wanted to get the business of procuring sheep quickly, quietly and neatly concluded, so he could proceed to the his other businesses at hand -- but circumstances forced Tremaine to linger at the Belle Maison, the Haddolfield family seat. He hadn't wanted to interact with the Haddonfield ladies, and had no thought to consider any of them for marriage, but there was something about Nita that drew him to her.
Though the Haddonfields were not at peace with each other, or at least not with Lady Nita. All families endured such tensions, which was part of the reason Tremaine remained largely outside the ambit of what family he had.
He took another bite of cold eggs and vowed to pin Bellefonte down regarding the herd of merino sheep before the sun had set. The sooner Tremaine transacted his business with Bellefonte and was on his way, the better.
- loc 238
The conflict of the story is life itself: when one's life's work and one's dream stands in the way of fulfilling a greater life's work and a greater dream. And this is where I know that what Tremaine feels for Nita isn't just a passing fancy:
"I cannot and will not let children die when I can help, Tremaine. I cannot allow women to suffer a complaint of the privy parts because they're too ashamed to seek Horton's dubious counsel. Where is your Christianity?"
Tremaine jerked on his breeches. "Where is your sense? ... I don't fault your kindness, my lady, but I cannot abide the notion that you repeatedly put yourself and your loved ones at risk merely for the asking. You risk your life, Nita, for anybody who asks it of you. I offer you happiness and a husband's rightful protection, and you disdain my suit."
- loc 3401
1. It's not instantaneous. Tremaine and Nita's relationship grew very, very gradually -- much of the narrative tackled day-to-day life at Belle Maison, and our hero and heroine would meet each other through the course of the day. They were ordinary, yet meaningful interactions where they learned a little bit about each other, and discovered how they complement each other, and how they counter each other, because, honestly, two people cannot be perfectly perfect for each other.
2. It required sacrifice. Nita's life and work are in ..., and Tremaine is just passing through and already has plans for his next business trip. While Tremaine appreciates Nita's skills and abilities, and admires them -- Tremaine's views for married life is still very conventional. Tremaine intends to look after his family, while Nita plans to take care of the world. I love that Tremaine recognises the importance of Nita's work. I love that Nita understands Tremaine's concerns -- and what is required of our hero and heroine is a radical shift of ideas and intentions. It becomes a question, then, of whether what they will gain is worth what they are giving up. It's quite heartbreaking to see them weigh their options in the hopes of finding a way for everything to work.
"Are you rejecting my offer of marriage, Nita Haddonfield?"
"Are you rejecting my calling as a healer, Tremaine St. Michael?"
- loc 3413
Grace Burrowes tackles such weighty issues such as medicine, healthcare (and poor people's lack of access to proper ones), a woman's place in society, and family -- and is honest enough not to provide a be-all and end-all answer, but instead offers the means by which such issues could be tackled: through thoughtful and mindful conversations and negotiations.
Tremaine's True Love is Book 1 in Grace Burrowes's True Gentlemen series. (The Duke's Disaster is connected to this series.) To find out more about Grace Burrowes and her books, click below:
Disclosure: I requested this ARC through Netgalley. Thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca and to Grace Burrowes for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.