- Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Harlequin Books (Aug 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0373834373
- ISBN-13: 978-0373834372
- Product Dimensions: 17.1 x 10.8 x 2.8 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,105,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Gayle Wilson unashamedly specialises in imperfect heros and, for those of us who prefer this type of man, she has given us one to die for in the Earl of Huntington. It is interesting that in her story "My Darling Echo" the hero has been blind for ten years and, on the whole, has learnt to cope with this disability which in the 1820s must have been incredibly difficult. Therefore there is none of the usual "nursing" scenario of the heroine giving the hero a reason to live; Huntington has a full, rich and vigorous life well established when we first meet him. The heroine, Mrs Arabella Simmons, is delightful, intelligent and responsible and how she and her little son, Kit, spread some light, love and laughter into the Earl's life is wonderful to read. The valet, Ingalls, is another Wilson speciality - the devoted and convincingly loving manservant - another of her well drawn deus ex machinae!
I think that I know of only one other novel which portrays a blind hero in this time frame so well: Marjorie Farrell's "Miss Ware's Refusal". In this novel, as well as this novella by Ms Wilson, the utter lack of sentimentality gives real honesty and forthrightness in the character portrayals.
My only complaint, as another reader has said, is that "My Darling Echo" was too short and so much deserved a full length novel; I could see so many paths for development. Or, perhaps, if I am honest, the very briefness of this story added to its poignancy anc charm.
I loved Wilson's 'My Darling Echo,' but it felt to me as if at least fifty pages had been cut out towards the end. When both characters had been so determined to maintain their business relationship regardless of their marriage, what made her decide to go to him? The motivation simply was not established. We had the beginnings of motivation, but given the characterisation Wilson had established, that wasn't enough. She needed to flesh out the story more, which would have taken more than the 100 pages in total which she had.
Putney's story, as always, was well crafted and very enjoyable; it was interesting to see a story set in the late 1800s as opposed to some years earlier. Again, though, I felt that she ended it too abruptly; despite her story being the longest of the three, she seemed to run out of time.
Anthology editors, please make these stories longer in future!!
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