Sep 6 2017 2:00pm

Insta-Lust to Love in Bronwen Evans’ A Love to Remember

A Love to Remember by Bronwen Evans

How unusual is it for a couple to be so completely, thoroughly, in lust with each other from the opening pages of a book—is the lust a kissing cousin to love? Is this an HEA in the first chapter? Hold your horses.

Philip Flagstaff, who became the new Earl of Cumberland after the death of his older brother Robert at Waterloo, is raddled with guilt. If he had not insisted on going to war, his older brother would not have joined him. Philip never intends to have an heir, deciding instead to let the earldom pass to his younger brother.

But not wanting children doesn’t mean not wanting and needing the comfort and affection of a woman he cares for deeply. Fortunately, Rose Deverill, the object of his affections and the wealthy widow of the Duke of Roxborough, lives life according to her own rules.

But Rose had men—a different man whenever she wanted, in fact. She just didn’t have a husband.  Which meant she did not have to put up with a man’s tantrums, his boring displays of jealousy, or worry that she might be left financially ruined by his profligate spending. When a man bored her, she simply sent him on his way. After all, none of them really mattered to her.

There had been a man, once, that mattered to Rose. Someone she “fell in love with at age fifteen.” Philip, of course. They re-discovered each other the day of his brother’s funeral and two years later, Rose muses, “he didn’t seem to be tiring of her. She had certainly not tired of him.” A lot can change in two years, however. The guardian for Rose’s son informs her that her “Wicked Widow” reputation is not longer acceptable as her son matures. She is to choose a husband or he’ll choose one for her. Although Rose had never really acknowledged to herself that she was considering re-marriage, this cruel ultimatum has her exploring her deepest wants and wishes.

Surely the fact that she had not ended their affair, as she normally did after a few months with a paramour, must tell Philip what was in her heart. Or did he believe the tale she’d spun to the ton that she never intended to remarry. Worse, did he not see her as worthy of marriage? If she’d ever imagined she had a chance of winning Philip’s heart, she would never have cultivated such a wicked reputation.

It, while no worse than his—definitely no worse than his—counted against her. Men tended to want their wives chaste, virginal, and young. She was none of those things. How she hated that damnable double standard.

She told her heart not to expect more from Philip. The only reason they’d become lovers in the first place was because of his grief. Never in her wildest dreams had she imagined that, two years later, he would still need her. Still want her. As far as she was aware he had no other mistress or lover.

But a man never married his mistress. An earl certainly did not.

She rolled over to face him. Simply looking at him still took her breath away. Bright blue eyes framed in a face of artistic angles and aristocratic lines, lips full and inviting, and deep auburn hair glinting copper in the sunlight. He could make her wet with a simple smile.

Who wouldn’t want to marry such a delightful specimen? But Rose has been avoiding speaking with Philip about the future for more than twelve months—she fears that he “didn’t want a future that included her.”

Rose’s friends encourage her to be hopeful. Portia recalls how quickly her now husband came around when he thought she was considering another: “A rival tends to crystallize a man’s view on love very quickly.” Another thing that makes a man contemplate marriage: the prospect of a life without the one he loves, adores, yearns for—even if he doesn’t admit that to himself until she says she is breaking off their relationship. It takes concerned friends and family, much brandy, and some serious introspection for Philip to face up to the truth, even if it takes a while.

Philip Flagstaff, you are an idiot.

He knew he should not have had that extra bottle of brandy, but he’d dined with Arend and Isobel and they were so damned happy. Watching them together, excited at the approaching birth of their first child, he’d been tempted to leave them to their excitement, race to Rose, tell her he’d made a mistake, and beg her to marry him.

But he hadn’t.

And introspection is not enough for Philip to turn away, immediately, from the path of self-defeating guilt over his brother’s death. It is to Bronwen Evan’s credit that A Love to Remember is a complicated and absorbing look at the factors that bring adults together—and keep them apart. Rose and Philip lead each other a very merry dance, occasionally threaded with stumbles and threats from within and without, but they are truly a couple meant to be together. 


Learn more about or order a copy of A Love to Remember by Brownwen Evans, available now:

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H&H Editor Picks:

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Janet Webb aka @JanetETennessee moved from the San Francisco Bay to eastern Tennessee. Baseball is my passion: I follow the Chattanooga Lookouts and the Nashville Sounds (farm team of my beloved Oakland Athletics). Social media devotee. Stories on royals and politics catch my eye. Ottawa born. Grew up on Georgette Heyer and Helen MacInnes. I also review at Criminal Element.

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Janet Webb
2. JanetW
You're welcome Kareni! I enjoyed it--a mistress story or rather a lover story, I couldn't decide.
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