Lady Anne-Sophronia Dunscombe is on the run from her violent and abusive father (there do seem to be rather a lot of those in historical romances these days!) and has disguised herself as a housemaid in the home of the eccentric and rumoured-insane Wilhelm Montegue, Earl of Devon. He is immediately aware that his newest member of staff is no housemaid and is both intrigued by and attracted to her, determined to find out what could possibly have happened to a young woman of good breeding to have made her enter domestic service.
Wilhelm is a tortured soul whose particular "gifts" were pounced upon and heavily used during the recent war in the Crimea, where he served as a spy and assassin. He's a savant - a mathematical and musical genius with a photographic memory, which obviously made him an excellent choice as a courier and spymaster. In addition, he appears to suffer from OCD and PTSD, and he is prone to sudden "trances", when he withdraws into himself and his world of music and numbers. He is widely rumored to be both insane and homosexual, but is utterly and genuinely dismissive of society's opinion. His war-time occupations and the horrors he suffered are revealed slowly, which works well to increase the reader's curiosity and to perpetuate the sense that there is much more to this man than meets the eye. Ms Densley draws a portrait of a truly fascinating man who, despite massive flaws, is incredibly attractive and utterly compelling.
The romance between these two damaged individuals unfolds slowly and naturally as they come to know and gain a sincere appreciation of each other. Sophia, intelligent, tough, and compassionate, is completely accepting of Wilhelm's eccentricities and comes to esteem him and value him as a person. For his part, Wilhelm has been so used to being regarded as a social pariah, that he is somewhat taken aback to discover that Sophia sees past the rumors and his oddness. But realizing that she sees beyond the gossip and what he terms his "illness" gives him the impetus to aspire towards making himself a better man for her. And he, in turn, shows Sophia tenderness and affection, offering her a happiness and freedom she'd never thought to have. In that way, theirs is very much a relationship of equals, and I thought it was very well-written; tender, sensual, and laced with humour.
As someone else has mentioned, there are various "Americanisms" peppered throughout the book; there are also a couple of writing "ticks" which became rather intrusive after a while, as well as a few times when the author used completely the wrong word, eg. "Today she'd been clearly outshined" when the correct useage is outshone.
Despite those things, however, I thoroughly enjoyed "Song for Sophia". Ms Densley is clearly a very talented author and she has crafted a compelling, entertaining and emotionally satisfying story featuring a couple of very well drawn and engaging protagonists. I will definitely be on the lookout for more of her work although I strongly hope that her next endeavour might receive a more thorough proof-reading before its release.
You can read a more detailed version of this review at All About Romance - [...]
Amazing writing! This is not your run-of-the-mill regency romance. Ms. Densley takes us into the hearts and minds of two very special individuals - Sophia and Wilhelm - both who have experienced a world of heartache.
The Lovely Sophia is on the run from a very cruel and abusive father - a powerful peer who is relentless in his chase. Sophia has scars on her back where she was beat to the bone by her father because she refused to be impregnated by the man of her father's choosing. Her father is in pursuit of her and will stop at nothing to have her back. She has found a great place to hide - as a servant in the home of Lord Wilhelm, the Earl of Devon. Sophia - with her strength, amazing mind and abilities more than meets her match in Lord Wilhelm.
Wilhelm is that most rare of heroes - a gentleman who would be considered an autistic savant in this day and age. He is very unusual with an amazing mind - his ability to compose music is phenomenal. He is a war hero who has endured unspeakable experiences including torture.
When he first notices Sophia, he is not only fascinated - he is obsessed - yes, obsessed because that is the world he often lives in and the only word you could use to describe his thoughts toward the lovely Sophia. He is so good at reading people by the most minute facial expressions and body language, he immediately recognizes that Sophia has known great suffering in her life. As a result, he realizes he must go slowly with Sophia to try and bring her to a place of trust so that she will allow him room in her life. I love his patience, I love the fact he puts her first even when his own desires rage. He is one of the most selfless heroes you can imagine. He is no wimp - he is a fighter through and through but he fights for a reason - not "just to kill."
The build-up of their story and romance against the background of other family members and friends makes for a rich story. His cousin and heir, Phillip Cavendish and Phillip's three sisters and Aunt Louise round out the story-line and provides momentary distractions from the intense romantic relationship between Wilhelm and Sophia.
I would put Ms. Densley in a class with Sherry Thomas and Laura Kinsale - can't wait to read her other books.
I bought this book on a recommendation and was so glad I did. The characters are compelling. Both the hero and heroine had unpleasant pasts that they were trying to escape and neither of them is looking for love. Both believe themselves to damaged for a relationship and so it comes as a great shock to both that they need each other. When the truth dawns the result is a touching romance that does not suffer from being too sickly sweet. There was genuine tension and peril right up to the end of the book. I will be looking out for more books by the same author.
I was curious about this book having seen a review of it on Goodreads. I was intrigued that the hero was a savant, with a dark past. I liked the way the hero and Sophia and Lord Devon reacted to each other. The author built the story well, and at one point I could hardly read it fast enough. It was a good entertaining read.
The reason I did not give this book five stars is that the author, being as I suppose an American, is not at home with English as spoken in England, and a few Americanisms crept in, and a few misplaced English slang words. I also felt that the author was not quite familiar with the strict stiffness of the English nobility and their servants in Victorian England.
Nevertheless, I did not let such details spoil my enjoyment of the story. If you can get over those small details, I would recommend this book for a good exciting read.
I enjoyed this book and it isn't anything like a book I would normally choose. It was a complicated and complex story and characters, but all were beautifully controlled. A truly talented author. So many twists and turns and all beautifully held together. At no point did I loose interest or the characters loose force. I will investigate this author further for sure.
Apart from a few Americanism's which I found mildly annoying, I really enjoyed this book. Captivating from start to finish with many twists and turns. The lead character's were not predictable as in some historical novels, this is a page turner with guaranteed satisfaction. Highly recommended.
I liked the story and would read books by the same author again, but whilst the 'blurb' said he was 'Savant' didn't really apply. The hero just went into some sort of trance for a few minutes and the rest of the time he appeared quite normal, brainy and had a clever mind.