Started 9/26 Finished 10/13
I didn’t get this title until I started reading. It feels more like the Frankie Valli song about being ‘close, but yet so far.’ It illustrates the main character, how Viola Brodure is next to life, but not really part of it.
Nichole hooked me with her character development. Each one had their own distinct personality, their own issues, and they grew as the plot developed. Every time I thought I knew where the story was going, Nichole added another twist, that upped the tension.
The best part – her author notes. The plot was inspired by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the poet. I didn’t know how her courtship started – in letters. That’s the plot Nichole planned to write, but this story had a mind of its own. Viola didn’t marry the poet, like Elizabeth did. The plot morphed and changed. I love when stories tell writers how they want to be told, and I’m glad Nichole shared that story.
Viola Brodure, gentlewoman and celebrated authoress, faces a personal dilemma suited for a novel—everyone wishes for her to make a love match with Ethan Penn-Leith, the famous Highland Poet. And by everyone, she means everyone—her father, her adoring readers, the gossip columnists, and her patron, the overbearing Duke of Kendall. Why, even Queen Victoria herself has given a nod of approval to the match. After all, the popular novelist and the famous poet are the perfect heroine and hero for their own love story. A literary dynasty waiting to be born.
The problem, of course, is that Viola has never met Ethan, not in the flesh, at least. She has read about him and devoured his poetic writings, but does the man himself live up to his dashing reputation?
Malcolm Penn-Leith exists in twilight. He manages his farm, Thistle Muir, in the shadow of the Scottish Highlands. As the older brother of the renowned Ethan Penn-Leith, Malcolm tends to his prized cows while Ethan basks in the limelight. Harder still, Malcolm lives under a cloud of grief after the death of his wife five years ago.
But then Miss Viola Brodure arrives in Malcolm’s wee village, intent on meeting Ethan and beginning a courtship. Viola—petite, blond, shy, and English—is nothing like Malcolm’s late wife. And yet, Viola awakens a piece of his heart that he thought lost in the abyss of his grief.
For her part, Viola is surprised to find herself more attracted to the stoic Malcolm than the charming Ethan. So now what? She isn’t meant to fall in love with the man adjacent to Ethan Penn-Leith. That’s not the plot she had outlined. After all, Malcolm and Viola are not the match made in heaven that everyone wishes to see. As social pressures mount, can Malcolm and Viola overcome the weight of his past and the expectations of her future to forge a new path together?
Please note that the basic elements of this story first appeared in a novella entitled A Ring of Gold. This current novel is a greatly-expanded adaptation of that novella.
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When I write, I can only have one voice in my head, mine. A little noise is fine. But too much, or worse yet, WORDS, and I must change rooms or pull out headphones. Then I can write on!