1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 16, 2011
Fans of Ms. Montgomery's Phantom of the Opera series will find much in this novel that is delightfully familiar. But while the Phantom series, with its psychologically troubled protagonist, the dark prince, Erik, can be thought of as being rendered in heavy oils, "Love's Apprentice" is done in the refreshingly light tones of a watercolor.
Like Erik, Lord Tyler Brandyce is disfigured by a scar, claiming half of his face. The evidence of his wound also mars his young and otherwise attractively well-developed physique. Lord Brandyce wrestles with issues of shame and traumatized identity, and the sense that life's horizons - in his case, the pleasurable possibilities of romance, love, marriage and children - have been reduced to sealed edges. For who would want such maimed wreckage? Like Erik, Tyler has suffered a second blow; he has also been spurned by the woman he loves. Even if his heart could open to another, Tyler is sure that his grotesque scar has sidelined him from the marriage market. But then again, there might be someone who is interested in the niche services Lord Brandyce might offer as a marital partner. Enter Miss Emily Cartwright. And here, of course, is where the fun begins.
Luckily for Miss Cartwright, Lord Brandyce's injuries are not as psychically deep or long standing as Erik's. But Emily's agenda couldn't be more different from Meg's. The recent death of her father has left Emily at the mercy of a villainous and lascivious distant cousin, who has managed to cheat her from her inheritance. And in the upper echelons of British society in the early 1800's, a single woman of limited means has few options. At 26, Emily realizes that her shelf life as a marriageable young maiden has nearly expired. Still, her greatest passion lies in writing tantalizingly romantic books, of all things, and this she is determined to pursue. But unlike the simpering heroines she portrays, Emily is a young woman with modern sensibilities, self-empowered as well as strikingly beautiful. Practical and direct, she's willing to take some risks for her chosen career!
And so, as the book opens, we find ourselves at one of the season's elegant balls, the perfect setting for the fireworks of these characters' unrealized desires and half-conscious motives to be ignited. Lord Brandyce has been forced to attend as chaperone to his younger half-sister. Miss Cartwright is there as well, prepared to approach Lord Brandyce with her unlikely proposal, a marriage of convenience that she hopes will suit both of them.
There are several wonderful surprises in this novel. I found myself really enjoying the dialogue between Lord Brandyce and Miss Cartwright. The comedy of manners format inherent in exchanges between them is carried off to wonderful and, at times, comic effect. The author has clearly read Jane Austen! The stakes are high for both Emily and Tyler as they negotiate what kind of marriage they can agree on, especially when they find themselves on the slippery slope of increasing and unexpected attraction to each other. Misunderstandings, pride, and sexual desire as well as both characters' need for integrity and honesty must wrestle with the cultural demands of decorum and propriety. A second wonderful surprise for me was found in the character of Alice, Tyler's younger half-sister, who really comes into her own in the latter part of the novel. And the third unexpected element adding to the fun can be found in the book-within-a-book motif. For Emily, who publishes under a pseudonym, her writing provides an imaginative outlet with the promise of some financial recompense and a solidified sense of self. But, of course, Tyler and Alice stumble upon these novels. As the true identify of the author is discovered, the stories play a role in the developing relationships between the characters as well as in Alice's need for an inventive inspiration in the novel's denouement.
One thing that was not a surprise at all was finding Ms. Montgomery's signature delicacy in rendering the erotic love scenes. These are described in ways that are lyrical and metaphorical, at times, and at other times, more forthright and explicit. You'll find yourself cheering that Miss Cartwright is at last learning, first-hand, how to write believable passionate trysts for her novels. And that the marriage she envisioned, empty of love and romance, has some plot twists of its own.
Like the Phantom series, "Love's Apprentice" provides a meditation on the healing power of love. But this novel is much more farce than tragedy. I think it will be a delight for old fans - and new.
on August 26, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
In "Love's Apprentice," Emily Cartwright finds herself destitute and at the mercy of an evil relative following the death of her father. Seeing no other way to avoid being forced into marriage with a lecherous man she detests, she seeks out the reclusive Lord Brandyce, and proposes a marriage of convenience. In this unconventional marriage arrangement, Lord Brandyce will have fulfilled his family's expectation of marriage, and Emily will not only be protected from her evil cousin, but will be free to pursue her career as a romance author.
Emily Cartwright is well educated, free-spirited, bold and outspoken. These are not character traits that were prized in a woman in the day and time of this novel. In fact, her free spirit and outspokenness frequently get her into trouble, not unlike Jo March, of "Little Women." The excerpts from Emily's novels within "Loves Apprentice" are very entertaining, especially "Captive Bride." When Lord Brandyce reads a portion of "Captive Bride," his reaction is quite amusing.
Like Erik (Phantom of the Opera) and the Beast (Beauty and the Beast) Lord Brandyce is scarred, reclusive and bitter because of his appearance and rejection by the only woman he has ever loved. Although Lord Brandyce is not looking for marriage, and is suspicious of Emily's motives, he agrees to marry her. He soon gets more than he bargained for.
Although there are some aspects of the story that seemed out of place for the historical period, and a couple of editing errors, "Love's Apprentice" is a very entertaining light-hearted romance.
on March 28, 2012
Like others here, I am a big fan of Sadie's Phantom series. Love's Apprentice goes in a different, less serious direction. It is terrific fun! I love strong female characters. Emily is a woman out her own time and element, who takes charge of her less than ideal situation and finds a way to have a life on her own terms. Of course, since this is a romance, she finds love along the way, in the place where she least expects it. Tyler, the hero, is flawed, insecure, and sworn to never love again, but likewise, he does. Nothing new to that formula. But what does make this romance fresh and fun is the story within the story. Emily is a romance writer whose life itself is like one of her books. She just doesn't realize it. There are many funny moments in Love's Apprentice that make it border on parody, and also some very tender ones that make it a romance at heart. As always, Sadie's writing is spot on. Her characters respond as real people might, with some allowance for literary license, of course. I enjoyed Love's Apprentice a great deal. Pick up a copy if you're looking for a light romance with a fun edge. Bravo Sadie!
on November 7, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Sadie Montgomery's newest novel, "Love's Apprentice", hits all of the right notes for a deeply satisfying romance novel. The physically and emotionally wounded hero and the spunky unconventional heroine arrange a marriage of convenience that turns into something much deeper. The novel's subtle humor pokes fun at the entire genre of romance writing making this an entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable novel as readers follow the budding relationship between Lord Tyler Brandyce and Emily Cartwright as they negotiate their new marriage and their lives together.
This story, like all of Sadie Montgomery's novels, is infused with rich prose and delicious details. I would highly recommend this novel.
on August 17, 2011
I agree wholeheartedly with Christine Banfield's review of this delightful novel. I'm not unbiased; I know the writer and all her work. But I enjoyed "Love's Apprentice" on its own merits; it's a favorite, along with the fourth and lightest of the darker Phoenix of the Opera series, "Phantom Death." Montgomery has a knack for comedy of manners and literary parody, which means "Love's Apprentice" offers at once a witty take-off on the romance genre and its conventions and all the emotional pleasures of the best romance novels.
on January 31, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Very enjoyable story about a very strong willed lady, and a very heart broken, scared young man. They enter into a marriage of convenience, only to fall hopelessly in love, realizing they both need each other. Another great story by Sadie Montgomery.