Have you ever read a book containing an irresistible setting and characters you adore, but that was built around a storyline that just didn’t align with your morals and principles pertaining to Christian Fiction? Well, that is my dilemma with Roseanna M. White’s newest book in the historical “Ladies of the Manor” series, entitled “The Reluctant Duchess”. Published by Bethany House in the spring of 2016, this story contains many recurring characters, sub-plots, and themes from the previous book in the series, and should definitely be read in the order intended by the author.
The characters in this book are so very lifelike, and their interwoven stories combine to form a novel that can almost be read with the vivid, realistic feeling of a well-made movie! In addition, the setting of early-1900s Scotland, and later England, adds to the overall appeal. To put it simply, in these aspects “The Reluctant Duchess” is a remarkable novel. When we approach the topic of the storyline, however, we run into a few significant issues…
Beginning in chapter one, readers will come to realize that the basic premise of the entire story is built from a foundation of horrible abuse. Rowena, the heroine, was attacked in the worst possible way just weeks before the story begins. She is broken. Understandably, nightmares abound. Can she triumph? In an unforeseen twist, the question arises… Will anyone be able to save Rowena from marrying the very man who brought such devastation into her life in the first place? With the brutal attack at the very centre of the story, naturally every element is altered by its presence. Unfortunately, this includes the lovable characters and beautiful setting.
“The Reluctant Duchess” is a remarkable story of overcoming devastation, learning the meaning of true love, and following God’s leading in every moment of life. Although the storyline contains dozens of uncomfortable moments, terrible memories, and improper scenes, the author somehow manages to handle them in a delicate and virtuous way that I cannot help but admire. Without question, this book is unsuitable for young readers. Older readers, however, after being forewarned of the difficult elements, may just find a remarkable story buried beneath the layers of heartache and devastation.
“Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.”