A Heart Revealed by Josi S. Kilpack is a lovely novel that caught me off guard. It’s the latest “proper romance” from Shadow Mountain publishing. “This new brand of ‘proper’ romance allows readers to enjoy romance at its very best—and at its cleanest—portraying everything they love about a passionate, romantic novel, without busting corsets or bed scenes,” according to www.shadowmountain.com.
I thoroughly enjoyed A Heart Revealed. Although it is a romance, even more it is a coming-of-age story. Amber Sterlington is the Rage of the Season in Regency London. When Thomas Richards first sees her, he is physically attracted to her. There is nothing about Amber that is attractive except her physical beauty. She is shallow, haughty, dismissive, and thoroughly unlikeable. Thomas is not only a third son, he is from the country, so while he is of Amber’s class, she would never give him a second look. Indeed, the second time she meets him, she doesn’t recall having been introduced and snubs him mercilessly and publicly.
But Amber is about to get her comeuppance in thorough fashion. She has a rare disorder that causes her to lose her hair. Her family banishes her to a rustic cottage in the country with only a maid for company and assistance. Fortunately for Amber, Thomas lives nearby, and while Amber lives in isolation under a false name, a chance errand brings Amber to his attention.
This book is mostly about Amber becoming a better person while dealing with a disability and personal challenges. There is very little interaction between Amber and Thomas until the second half of the novel. I would have liked more scenes with the two of them and more of Thomas by himself. Thomas is a fine, admirable gentleman who does not let society dictate his behavior. Once love comes between them, it happens very quickly, but that’s not unusual in romance novels. And I thoroughly enjoyed Amber’s changing relationship with her maid Suzanne and growing awareness of her own flawed character.
There were some parts of the book that struck me as not true to the times, but I’m not a Regency purist so they didn’t bother me too much. The book did get a little draggy about one third of the way in, but once it picked up I really flew through to the end. So often a romance heroine is so beautiful and perfect it’s hard to relate to her. This book features a main character who struggles with a disorder 200 years ago that would be difficult to deal with even today.
This book is a stellar example of its type. If you enjoy a well-written coming-of-age story with good character development and a little romance thrown in, I strongly recommend it. If your focus is on the romance and lots of it, this book may not be your cup of tea.
I read an advance reader copy from netgalley.com. A Heart Revealed will be published on April 7. If you looking for a book to read while you are waiting, the Galesburg Public Library owns two other “proper romance” novels, Edenbrooke and Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson.