Memory is his weapon. Forgetting is her armor.
Sophie Roe was once a wealthy young lady, with an adoring fiancé. But that was ten years ago.
Now Sophie barely scrapes a living in trade. Her benefactor, the Duke of Clive, is dead. And the man she jilted is the new duke: rich, powerful, and determined to think the worst of Sophie.
Julian has never been able to forget Sophie. He intends to find out just why she rejected him—and why she’s lying about the old duke’s death.
Sophie is hopelessly entangled in the past. But as long-buried secrets and betrayals come to light, Julian may be the man to set her free…
Publisher and Release Date: Little Phrase, December 2014
Time and Setting: 1839, Derbyshire, England
Genre: Historical Romance/Mystery
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars
Review by Maria Almaguer
This original and rather unusual historical romance by Erin Satie is more a dramatic novel of manners than a true historical romance. There’s a melodramatic and sinister mystery plot running through the entire story, one that actually began years earlier and is still reverberating when the story begins. There’s also a love story, which I feel is almost secondary, between Julian (now a duke) and Sophie, Julian’s former fiancée and once a lady of wealth and prestige, who is now a spinster struggling and working for a living in trade.
Handsome and amiable, Julian has returned to his Derbyshire family estate after inheriting the dukedom unexpectedly. Ten years earlier, Sophie broke his heart when she abruptly ended their engagement and he has worked for the Foreign Office ever since. His return to the countryside is bittersweet, but he comes home to an unforseen mystery: the questionable circumstances surrounding the previous duke’s death. He also wants to discover the real reason Sophie ended their engagement.
The novel is presented more from Sophie’s point of view so I didn’t really get a feel for Julian’s character, which is disappointing since he’s an interesting and likeable hero. He’s a kind and forthright gentleman who has never stopped loving Sophie, despite her abrupt severance of their betrothal. But he’s not above suspecting foul play, and even casting suspicion on her.
Sophie Roe is a troubled and sad young woman and I’m not sure I liked her very much. She bears a prominent facial scar after an accident during her engagement ball years before, and she has always somehow believed that Julian was responsible. There’s also a secondary love interest in the strange person of William Allsop. This part of the story is a little confused, which is why I believe Sophie has not been quite right for some time. She has a talent for and is an expert at forgery and writes daily letters from her parents and others (forging their handwriting) only to toss them into the river. She almost seems to live in an imaginary world, where she can pretend the past either never happened or rewrite its truths.
Ever since she ended things with Julian, Sophie has made a living creating quality inks and fountain pens, a lucrative and ambitious business that has earned her prominent clients including the Foreign Office. She hopes to expand her business to a larger town and she enjoys the work but, it seems to me that, she has thrown herself into the endeavor more to heal her broken heart and dreams of life as a lady than any real desire to earn money.
Sophie lives with her relatives, an aunt, uncle, and cousins who took her into their family after her parents’ deaths, and are an integral part of the novel, at first seeming loving and kind but proving dubious as the story moves forward. When the truth finally comes to light, Sophie is understandably hurt but perhaps this explains her depressive nature all along.
The romance between Sophie and Julian has its passionate moments, but it is tinged with a melancholy largely caused by Sophie’s dissatisfied state of mind. Julian often tries to bring light and humor into their time together but I am not so sure about their happy ending.
Erin Satie writes very well in an easy to read and elegant style and I am impressed with the characters she creates and the pacing of the book. If I had to give this novel a mood, however, it would be heavy-hearted; I want the characters to be happy but I’m afraid they won’t be. Perhaps they’ll be content and that’s the best they can hope for.
The Lover’s Knot is the second book in the No Better Angels series though I don’t feel I was missing anything having not read the first book. If you enjoy serious stories, this book is for you.