Sunday, December 2, 2012

Review: WALTZ WITH A STRANGER by Pamela Sherwood

Pamela Sherwood’s Victorian romance, Waltz with a Stranger, is a beautiful, deeply moving story of the conflict between love and honor and how, sometimes, both can win.

American heiress Aurelia, scarred in an accident, avoids people, especially men, until she dances one waltz with a kind, handsome stranger who doesn’t care about her disfigurement. His gentle encouragement gives her the will to go on, as well as placing him forever in her heart.

James is entranced with the beautiful, sorrowful girl. But he has no money, and cannot ever win the hand of a rich lady. They part, never expecting to see each other again.

They meet a year later. James is now unexpectedly an earl with an impoverished estate and betrothed to Aurelia’s twin sister, Amy, because he needs the money. Neither Aurelia nor James is free, in honor, to admit or act on their feelings for each other.

In the typical treatment of this situation, the two sisters fight tooth and nail over the man. Not here. Ms. Sherwood has turned convention on its head by making Aurelia and Amy adore each other. Their love is believable because they try to help each other, and while neither will do anything to harm the other, neither is a martyr, either. Aurelia suffers guilt over her feelings, and almost could, but doesn’t, hate her sister. Amy wants Aurelia to find happiness with a husband, while not knowing she wants James. James, too, is believable, as the hardships of his early life did not make him into a spoiled, overprivileged aristocrat. He plans to honor his commitment to Amy while his heart desperately yearns for Aurelia.

Most of the tension arises as the three principals try to reconcile their choices with their desires while keeping their feelings to themselves. But there is also a thread of mystery as James seeks the truth about the death of late, unlamented, previous earl. There’s also plenty of history and lush descriptions that firmly anchor this story in the late Victorian era when bankrupt English noblemen married American heiresses.

In our world where everyone is out for him or herself, I love this story about both love and honor triumphing. I look forward to Ms. Sherwood’s next book.

Thank you all,
ARC provided by Sourcebooks

1 comment:

Irene_J said...

This really does sound a sweet novel to read. Even though you felt it was a bit slow, the other compliments you gave the novel are certainly enough to intrigue me into wanting to read it. Thanks for sharing such a great and fair review.

Irene (Salmon Fishing Alaska)