I never know to say in these things. I guess that says something about me. I read a lot, write stories, and like books. I like a good debate. Nothing else is to say. :-)
I am beginning to see now why Laura Kinsale was recommended to me so highly. Her characters are fully drawn and realized, and they are always so unconventional and easy to relate to. While you come to expect certain things from romance..cliches and characters, and her books still have many of them, she adds so much depth and realism to everything that you find yourself feeling it more than others. The best comparison I can make is that while other romance books are like chocolate: fun and tasty, light and very enjoyable. A satisfying snack and guilty pleasure. Kinsale's books are like a steak dinner: fat, juicy, satisfying and nourishing to the body. So much more.
This description does this book no justice. The Duke of Jervaulx is the typical romance rake on the surface, but early on in the book he is struck by a serious medical condition that changes his fortune instantly. As a result he is put away by his family. At the institution he once again runs into Maddy, who is not at all the typical female romance heroine. Maddy is a pious Quaker woman set to work at her cousins hospital where she meets the Duke, a man she and her father have had small dealings with before and she has no good opinion of. But his plight call to her and she feels it is her duty from God to help him. Thus begins their adventure to save him. This was also a change..the woman was not the one in desperate need of care, protection and rescuing.
The Duke is man of many secrets and lies, but he has been humbled not only by his circumstances but by Maddygirl, who he feels grateful to and loves. Maddy's whole life is her religion and her community and spends the entire book torn between what her heart wants and what her brain and upbringing tells her is wrong. They both make lots of dumb mistakes and you want to smack them sometimes...especially Maddy when she gets her pious rage on...but you root for them still. Their tale is very tender and forgiving and full of acceptance and love. And that seems to be the message. Not that love conquers all, but that love requires you to conquer many obstacles including those you create yourself. It requires constant works and compromise. There will be good and bad...no one is perfect, but if you want it and work at it...you can have it.