39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Another powerful & most definitely atypical romance,
This review is from: The Shadow and the Star (Mass Market Paperback)
Wow! Laura Kinsale is an excellent writer of multifaceted romances. This novel could pass for general fiction but it is definitely a romantic story. Her stories contain such substance with strong secondary characters, an excellent suspense/mystery sideline, and a most unusual romance. Kinsale is not my favorite romance author but she is distinctly compelling and intense in her writing style. She does not write "quick reads". Her stories require a reader's dedication and effort to fully enjoy her complex stories.
Samuel is the handsome, golden haired hero trained in the martial arts and raised in Hawaii by a loving couple, the Ashlands, alongside their two younger children. Samuel is more than your normal, wonderful romance hero. He is even more self-assured and captivating even though he embraces chastity. His quiet forceful manner hides the secrets and shame of a particularly abusive childhood from which the Ashlands had rescued him.
Leda is a properly raised English woman on the fringes of London society. Although she doesn't see herself as such, she is a beautiful woman. She finds herself dismissed from her job unreasonably one day and is desperate to find another position - hopefully as a typist. Leda is one of the most proper behaving young ladies I have ever read. She doesn't even get near anything that could be remotely related to improper situations or behavior. As she repeatedly fails in her search for employment, she finds herself in one compromising position after another.
After a series of great encounters between Samuel and Leda, which I will not even begin to allude to, Samuel hires her as a typist. As she begins working for Samuel, she becomes acquainted with his family, the Ashlands, and is easily accepted into their midst. Samuel is a very self-controlled individual and cannot understand his strong physical attraction to Leda. He has already decided that he will marry another and his commitment to that is strong. Both Samuel and Leda fight their mutual attraction although Leda is so proper - not even meeting with her employer unless the door is open - that I found it amazing that they actually found the opportunity to become physically involved. There are some sensual scenes and they rate a 4.0 out of 5.0 (see More About Me for rating guidelines).
To tell more about this story, other than it is a tremendous love story, would probably provide a spoiler of some sort. It is a very compelling read as Samuel and Leda discover through many trials and tribulations that they truly love each other. Samuel had a lot of issues with his duties as one highly trained in the martial arts and had to decide where his duty to Leda ranked. It is a wonderful "hide and seek" as the two grow together, then seemingly apart, then together again.
I highly recommend The Shadow and the Star! I can remember so many of the details of this book even weeks later and I have read many other books in the meantime that I can barely - if at all - remember the primary plot. This is a book that requires time in the beginning. Kinsale is building a very solid base during this first portion of the book and I promise you that you will eventually feel very grateful for those long introductory pages. All of that background just ties you tighter and tighter to the book. Please note: I usually want romance without many peripheral characters. However, this is the exception to the rule. Take the time - get into The Shadow and the Star. I put off reading it for months only to discover it is one of the best books I have read!