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Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Winter's Day: A Restoration Tragedy by Bunny Paine-Clemes

It is 1666 and young heiress Elizabeth Mallet is in London, stifled by the restrictions imposed by her family and unimpressed by the suitors her mother is trailing in front of her. Yet Elizabeth is convinced that it is her destiny to find, in this thrilling capital city, a man of passion and excitement, the man who will be her soulmate. When she meets the dashing but penniless John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, her heart is instantly lost to him and she must make him hers. This spellbinding romance takes place at the heart of bawdy Restoration London, against a backdrop of momentous events in English history: the Plague, the Great Fire and war against the Dutch. Will the determined Elizabeth get what she so desires wedded bliss in an era of loose social mores and strategic marital liaisons? Or will the promiscuous Rochester's seeming dread of marriage end up leaving her frustrated and broken-hearted? This intimate and intricate historical tragic-comedy will transport you back to the Devil's year and the romance of the century.

In the novel, A WINTER’S DAY: A RESTORATION TRAGEDY, author Bunny Paine-Clemes acquaints readers with two fascinating characters who lived during England’s restoration period – John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester and Elizabeth Mallet, a wealthy heiress from a noble family.


John Wilmot
Second Earl of Rochester


Elizabeth Mallet
Countess of Rochester

Elizabeth’s mother and grandfather are avidly searching for a suitable husband her to wed. In a chance meeting, Elizabeth encounters John Wilmot, a charismatic and charming impoverished earl with a reputation for riotous behavior, rampant drunkenness, spirited dialogue, and outrageous frolics; a notorious lady’s man known for his numerous love affairs and sexual encounters. Elizabeth falls hopelessly in love, but Elizabeth’s guardians strongly disapprove and endeavour to keep her separated and far away from wicked earl.
 
As the couple become more earnest in finding ways to come together, their passion increases, culminating in the earl abducting her. Of course, he is soon caught and imprisoned in infamous Tower of London. A favourite of the king, John is not treated too harshly and is soon released and forgiven. To redeem himself, he sets off for war where his bold courage results in extremely heroic acts, adding to his colorful reputation.

Along with Elizabeth and John, the author adds a host of historical figures from the time – especially John’s friends and the king, who support and guide him along the way.

What I loved most about this novel was the author’s portrayal of the extremely sexy, magnetic, and alluring John Wilmot. From his incredibly quippy and sharp dialogue, to his lovably bold and confident romantic antics, I was completely absorbed by this enigmatic man. I could not wait to turn the pages to find out what he would do or say next. I cannot say enough about how exceptional the author’s depiction of him his. By far one of the best characterizations of a romantic hero I have ever read.

Equally fabulous was the development of the heroine, Elizabeth Mallet. Her growing love for the earl was written in a credible, realistic fashion. A woman trapped by social convention, she was feisty enough to follow her heart and do everything she could to be with the man she loved despite the entire world discouraging her from him.

This was a brilliant retelling of the lives of two lesser-known historical figures and well worth reading. My only caveat is to be prepared for antique language, which took some getting used to – words like hither and thither, hence and whence, and many other old English words no longer in use today. Although they lend spice and authenticity, they were a bit distracting and made for a challenging read. Nevertheless, this is a brilliantly written novel, authentic and true to the times, and extremely well researched. I very highly recommend it! Fabulous, truly fabulous!
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