What a wonderful love story this was. This is my first Lenora Bell book and I am so impressed with her writing. Not only does she know how to tell a story, but her writing is almost poetic. The words she used, the way she formed her sentences, the structure of her paragraphs, perfectly reflected the poetry of falling in love. It was delightful and charming but with a subtle sadness to it that grabs your heart.
The main characters, Edgar and Mari, were dynamic and interesting and richly developed. They learn and explore each other in the same way a reader eventually gets to know a well written character. Their lives and interests were not wallpaper. They weren’t merely surface material to give them a background. They were integral parts of the story being told.
Edgar did not just go off to work and then come back after a while. We went to work with him, experienced his passion for creating his fire engine and how he developed it. We witnessed him paint his intricate model engines. Mari’s work as a governess, getting to know his children and bonding with them was not only engaging as a reader, but it was as much about herself and how she grew as a character, as opposed to simply being an excuse for her to be in Edgar’s home. And through all that they fell in love over time, by discovering truths about each other that helped them discover truths about themselves.
My favorite thing about this book was the way Lenora Bell took their stations in life, a duke and a governess, and reversed the roles in their relationship. She built up the idea that Mari was above his reach in every way, despite the fact that she was a governess, from the very beginning. It was foreshadowed from the moment they met, while the duke was kneeling at her feet, and then woven throughout the story in a beautiful metaphor, almost like a mythology. I loved this twist on the common duke/governess trope.
There were so many feels in this book. We got to get into both of their minds so deeply, to understand their hopes and dreams, their hesitations and fears, their longing and desire for each other. Edgar in particular was developed so well that he falls in love in increments that are told in such a touching way. There were not many love scenes in this book, but I didn’t miss them because their love story was so perfectly told that butterflies were constantly bursting through me throughout the entire book. The sexual tension was incredible, but this book didn’t even rely on that for them to fall in love. It was truly a love story. A genuine romance.