From the blurb:
To the world, Lady Patricia Morgan is a proper lady. But in secret, she yearns for a scorching romance – a single night of passion to make her feel alive. For years ago she had had that with a breathtaking gentleman she has never forgotten. They spent one perfect day together, but he disappeared before she could learn his name.
Eight years ago, Captain Nikolas Acton ran off to join the navy so he could forget the mysterious young lady who, after promising him her heart, simply vanished. Now he has returned to England
as a war hero, and is staggered to come face to face with the woman who still possesses his heart…
Sometimes life’s path is not the one you thought you would tread and this is certainly the case for the two main characters in Katharine Ashe’s regency novella A Lady’s Wish. Patricia and Nikolas first meet at a May Day celebration, and after a deliriously intense and happy day they agree to meet the next morning and run off together. But it is not to be, for the very next morning Patricia learns that her parents have betrothed her to another man and she is forced into an unhappy and loveless marriage. When she does not return to their meeting place, Nikolas searches for Patricia before running off to the Navy to try to forget about her. This book then tells the story of what happens nine years later when the two characters meet again. Is it just down to chance or are there stronger forces at work here? Is someone once again fiddling with their futures, or it is simply destiny that their paths must cross again and entwine?
It is a short story, but I found it to be a delightfully sweet and heart-warming read. Katharine’s use of description was not overpowering, but emotive – reflective of the strength of the feelings that these two characters have held back and suppressed for so many years; for example:
A fortnight back in London and he looked for her everywhere, upon the street, in the drawings rooms, in the lips and eyes and hair and hands he danced with in crowded ballrooms.
But all men were not like Oliver. Some were passionate. She had kissed a man of that sort once. On one perfect day she had tasted heaven.
The story is told from the point of view of both main characters, which allows you to understand the pain and heartache that both have endured since their original love-at-first-sight meeting. Both characters are fully formed and believable. Patricia, now a widow, is kind and thoughtful, yet has a spark of fieriness about her. She yearns to experience fully the desire that she felt on that one day with Nikolas, and it seems that she is not afraid to break with society’s rules to experience that again, even if it is just the once –a single night of passion – before she returns to her sensible family life with her children. Nikolas, now a celebrated war hero, returns to land knowing that he should settle down but struggling to settle for anything less than the girl who stole his heart all those years ago. Both are still haunted by the memory of each other, their first loves.
There are some fabulous other characters mixed into this book as well. I loved Patricia’s slightly mad elderly aunt and her rambunctious and flirty younger sister. Patricia’s late husband, Oliver, also fascinated me – while I wanted to not like him, I couldn’t help feeling somewhat sorry for him. We also get an intriguing glance at a main character in one of Katharine’s other novels in her Rogues of the Sea series, Alex Savege – a Robin Hood upon the sea – in Captured by a Rogue Lord.
The novella packs in quite a few twists and turns, which is impressive considering its length. Whilst you might hazard a few guesses at the mystery of the force pulling these two characters together and how it will ultimately resolve, the plot will keep you guessing throughout, and that for me is a sign of a good book. I look forward to reading more from this author.
A Lady’s Wish is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.