Enjoyable Gilded Age Romance
An American heiress and widow of a rakish English earl, Catherine has returned to New York high society determined to make amends for the scandal she caused when she crossed the Atlantic to elope with her best friend’s suitor and win the title of Lady Bisterne. But a ruined reputation isn’t the only thing that’s followed her home: Lord Tristram Wolfe, the rightful heir to the Bisterne estate, has vowed to track down his family’s stolen jewels—gems he’s certain Catherine stole.
Catherine has more to think about than charming, handsome Tristram and his accusations, even if he’s beginning to change her mind about never returning to England. Back at her family’s Tuxedo Park estate, she resolves to restore her honor by earning the forgiveness of her best friend and protecting her younger sister from other fortune-seeking Englishmen with dubious titles, all while abiding by the etiquette of the Gilded Age.
Yet when Tristram’s quest takes a dangerous turn, she must decide whether to follow the rules or save her accuser’s life.
Note: The Honorable Heir is apparently a re-edited version of a previously published novel.
There were a few things which confused me about The Honorable Heir. One was the beginning, which had too many characters to the point I found it difficult to work out who was who (and who was related to who). It also wasn’t immediately clear who Catherine’s love interest was to be, as there seemed to be good reasons why it shouldn’t be Lord Tristram Wolfe. I was pleased to find it was, as he made a lovely hero.
But the number of character wasn’t the only thing which confused me. Catherine said she hadn’t seen the pictures in the safe, but I thought she meant the jewels. At one point she said she hadn’t seen all the jewels, but later she said she’d watched as her husband had gone through them. She said she’d missed the snow while living in England, but later complained how cold it had been in Kent. Each of these things can be explained, but each gave me pause and pulled me out of the story—not good.
I also wasn’t sure whether this was meant to be Christian fiction or not, despite being published by Waterfall Press, Amazon’s Christian imprint. No, The Honorable Heir didn’t have any content that Christian readers might object to, but nor did it have any content that made it Christian. Yes, you could argue that the underlying themes had Christian undertones: honesty, honour, staying true to yourself, not taking the easy path, being prepared to stand up for your beliefs. But themes such as these could just as easily have been a general market novel (although not the one I reviewed on Tuesday …).
Despite that, I did enjoy the developing romance between Catherine and Tristram, and I was relieved to find that the American setting meant I didn’t notice historical glitches (I have little patience for American authors writing English characters who read as American). The result was I enjoyed The Honorable Heir a lot more than I enjoyed previous novels I’ve read by Laurie Alice Eakes.
Overall, it’s a sweet romance set in the Gilded Age, where nouveaux riche Americans fight for English titles … and find that while they might get what they want, they might not actually want it. The writing was solid, the characters interesting, and the suspense plot provided a nice foil for the romance.
Thanks to Waterfall Press and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.