A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

TBR Challenge: the Lady’s Companion by Carla Kelly

on July 16, 2014

The theme: A RITA nominee or winner. This won for Best Regency in 1997.

Why this one: It was between this and Stealing Heaven by Madeline Hunter, and I’d used a Hunter book for May. I managed to completely forget that I’d used a Kelly book for June. Oops.

The first chapters of this had tears pricking constantly in my eyes (though nothing compared to how much I’d be crying by the end.) It’s Susan’s 25th birthday, and her birthday wish is for “someone, anyone, to rely on.” Her father’s gambling has taken away everything Susan cares about, most especially her dream for a husband and children — she’s beautiful and bright, but what respectable gentleman would take on a penniless woman with her family baggage?

When things have hit almost rock bottom and Susan faces a life of unpaid drudgery, she decides to boldly seek a life of paid drudgery instead. This takes her to the employment office of Joel Steinman, and I can’t tell you how long it took me to get over the fact that this sweet, one-armed, Jewish tradesman was not going to be her hero. Damn, I love him. (As of a year ago, Kelly was speculating about writing a story for him… I’ll be first in line to buy it.)

Our actual hero is almost as appalling a Prince Charming for our Cinderella — an illegitimate Welsh bailiff, badly scarred from having been whipped for stealing in the army. (Even his last name, Wiggin, was stolen.) He is also steadfast, brave, and caring… a perfect match for our steadfast, brave, and caring heroine, if she can look past their class differences. As they join together in their attempts to help their elderly employer keep her independence, those differences begin to seem less and less important.

This is a more sensual story than any of the older Kellys I’ve read. Susan’s physical attraction to David Wiggin is extremely strong, and often keeps her up nights, pondering the mysteries of sex. There’s some pretty earthy humor, too. But love and devotion of all kinds are the heart of the book — it celebrates the bonds of a chosen family, which can be more meaningful than those of birth.


12 responses to “TBR Challenge: the Lady’s Companion by Carla Kelly

  1. Miss Bates says:

    This sounds so good. I’m pretty sure it’s in the vast TBR and I look forward to reading it even more now. 🙂

  2. quilterphyl says:

    I love this book. I think I need to pull it out for a re-read.

  3. Barb in Maryland says:

    I love this one! I really enjoy how Kelly often injects real world problems into her books–in this one she tackles the very difficult subject of battlefield courage and what disasters unfold when the leader is not fit for the job. I think I went through a whole box of Kleenex the first time I read this one.

    Oh, I would be right behind you in line to read Joel’s story. What a fabulous character.

  4. Kelly says:

    Oh, I must read this one. Somehow I made it late 2012 before I ever discovered a Carla Kelly book (it’s possible I live under a rock…), but the few I’ve read have been lovely.

  5. azteclady says:

    Despite having read praises for Ms Kelly’s books before, it is this review that has convinced me I must read her–or at least, read this book. Thank you.

  6. SuperWendy says:

    Oh man, this one sounds really good – and oh happy day! According to my records I have a print copy buried somewhere in the TBR. Now all I have to do is find it.

  7. willaful says:

    So glad you enjoyed it AztecLady! One Good Turn is another excellent tearjerker — the heroine’s past is horrific.

  8. […] believe this is the third Kelly I’ve chosen for the TBR challenge, and it’s the first of them I’ve found disappointing. The plot is […]

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