Monday, 14 November 2011

Met By Chance by Lynne Connolly

There’s more to this man than satin and lace.

The third book in the Triple Countess series.

After a serious riding accident, Perdita Garland is back in society. Unfortunately the first man who catches her interest, Charles Dalton, Marquis of Petherbridge, turns out to be a popinjay with a spoiled daughter in tow. And his equally spoiled sister is flirting with the same fortune-hunting suitor who almost cost Perdita her life. What’s a lady to do? Warn the marquis of the danger, of course.

Charles knows that English society finds his manners and dress astonishing, but they cover a man broken by a disastrous marriage to a faithless wife. Now a widowed father determined not to be fooled again, he is nevertheless charmed by Perdita and the steely strength of will under her fragile exterior. If only the lady would mind her own business.

But when his impulsive sister elopes and kidnaps his daughter, he finds himself wishing he had listened to the little busybody. And Perdita, feeling partly responsible for the disaster, boldly sets out to help him put things right.

Alone in a strange city with his lordship, plunged into danger, Perdita discovers there is more than meets the eye under the pampered skin of the marquis. There is strength, power…and passion beyond her wildest dreams.

Perdita features in another book from this series as she is helped to walk again after an accident that almost wrecked both her legs. She’s on the shelf—or so she thinks…until she meets Charles. There’s something about him that throws Perdita completely off balance, more so because she thought she’d never find true love and was destined to spend the rest of her life alone.

Charles wears the make-up of the times, disguising who he really is, and at first, Perdita sees him as everyone else in Society does—as a confident man who knows what he’s about and commands respect. However, she soon learns he’s had to teach himself to be this way, and his reason for wearing so much make-up is so he can hide behind it. In the past, he’s been the victim of falling for a spoiled, selfish woman who cared nothing about anyone but herself. When she dies, he returns to England with his spoiled daughter and hopes to make the best of it.

Charles and Perdita are drawn together, and when his also-spoiled sister, Millicent, takes off with a nasty piece of work called Berrington, thinking herself in love with him, and also takes her niece with her as insurance, the couple are destined to find the three runaways together.

In a few well-written sentences, Ms. Connolly showed me what a horrible little girl Charles’ daughter was, and although she’s only young, I couldn’t help but dislike the child. I understood her reasons for behaving the way she did, but at the same time I couldn’t help but think mean things. I felt a bit guilty over that.

Millicent is from the same mould but more dangerous because she’s an adult, and I don’t feel guilty over how I felt about her! Although she sort of can’t help the way she is due to her upbringing, as an adult she knew exactly what she was doing and how to hurt. I don’t mind admitting I wouldn’t have been as forgiving and kind towards her as Perdita was. I sided with Charles with regards to her!

I’ve never been to Liverpool but now feel as though I have. With Ms. Connolly’s expert story telling and descriptions, it isn’t hard at all to find yourself knowing a place you’ve never visited. I especially liked the part of the book set here, because it’s where Perdita and Charles become really close. Perdita sees the man behind the make-up, and Charles sees parts of Perdita she’s previously kept hidden from many.

I must also confess I wished his daughter didn’t exist. How cruel is THAT? I could see problems in their future with her playing Charles off against Perdita, but love wins in the end and Perdita agrees to marry him no matter what his daughter gets up to. I wish them well—and that sounds daft in a way because had they lived for real it would have been years ago and they’d be dead by now, and also they’re fictional characters, but that’s how Ms. Connolly gets me every time. I believe these people exist. Fantastic!

The transformation warmed him, the way Aimee's face softened and her scowl was replaced by a sunny smile. (GRR!)

...several decanters twinkled in the sunshine coming through the window.

"I want to love you, Peri, but I'll leave you intact..."

"Don't forget that, Perdita, when you think of me." (Swoon!)

What must it be like to have a family who cared for you? (Aww.)

...and while Perdita rejoiced to see it, sometimes she wished she could see it from a bit further away. (Hahahahahaha!)

Met By Chance is yet another charming, wonderful historical read by Ms. Connolly. I can’t fault her attention to detail and plot, and I know I’m guaranteed a journey into the past that never fails to deliver. Superb, as always, Met By Chance is a must-read for all historical fans and one that can be read as a standalone even though it is the third in a series. Magnificent!

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