Book Review: A Comfortable Alliance: A Regency Novel by Catherine Kullmann
Publication Date: 25th March 2021 Publisher: Willow Books Page Length: 420 Pages Genre: Regency Historical Romance
Can they open their hearts to something much deeper and passionate? Will their marriage only ever be a comfortable alliance?
Six years ago, Helena Swift’s fiancé was fatally wounded at Waterloo. Locking away all dreams of the heart, she retreated to a safe family haven. On the shelf and happy to be there, Helena has perfected the art of deterring would-be suitors.
Will, Earl of Rastleigh, is the only son of an only son: marriage is his duty. One of the great prizes of the marriage market, he shies away from a cold, society union. While he doesn’t expect love, he seeks something more comfortable. But how to find the woman who will welcome him into her life and her bed, and be a good mother to their children?
When Will meets Helena, he is intrigued by her composure, her kindness and her intelligence. As their friendship develops, he realises he has found his ideal wife, if only he can overcome her well-known aversion to matrimony.
Will succeeds in slipping past Helena’s guard. Tempted by the thought of children of her own, and encouraged by her mother to leave the shallows where she has lingered so long, she accepts his offer of a marriage based not on dangerous love but affectionate companionship and mutual respect.
But is this enough? As Will gets to know his wife better, and the secrets of her past unfold, he realises that they have settled for second-best. Can he change the basis of their marriage? Will Helena risk her heart and dare to love again?
She would never again have what she had lost, but she was content with what she had.
Helena Swift's heart had been shattered into a million pieces when her beloved fiancé died from the injuries he sustained at the Battle of Waterloo. With his death, Helena had no desire to risk her heart again, so she withdrew from society. She is resigned to the fact that she will always be a beloved aunt, but never experience the joy of motherhood for herself.
William, 8th Earl of Rastleigh has to marry, for he needs an heir. But he has not yet met the woman he could envisage spending the rest of his life with. That was, until he met Helena. Helena intrigues him, and he enjoys the ease between the two of them. Helena would make the perfect countess.
Will offers Helena everything, except for love. This proposal is something that Helena considers carefully, for she wants a family of her own. But will a marriage of mutual respect and friendship be enough?
A Comfortable Alliance: A Regency Novel by Catherine Kullmann is a beautifully woven love story that is rich with historical detail and unforgettable characters.
As one would expect to find in a romance, regardless of what era the book is set in, the couple must elude and overcome numerous stumbling blocks to reach that happy ever after ending. However, the complications that occur for the protagonists of this novel are not caused by an outside force or unrealistic obligations, but it is their inability to ask each other the right questions and to admit their growing love.
After the tragic death of her first love, Captain Richard Harbury, Helena Swift had vowed never to fall in love again. She remains true to her first love. She still wears his ring, even after all this time. But what William, 8th Earl of Rastleigh offers Helena is not a marriage built on a foundation of love, rather one based on mutual affection, friendship and companionship. Helena realises after some deep and reflective soul searching that she does not want to spend the rest of her life wishing for a future that has, thus far, been denied to her. And although she was resigned to spend her life as a companion for her mother, she realises that this is no longer enough. She wants a family of her own; she wants to become a mother, and Will is offering her that chance. She admires Will and is certainly attracted to him but, more importantly, she likes him. What she wasn’t expecting was how well they would get along. Together, they can weather any storm. And unlike many of her acquaintances, Helena comes to the shocking realisation that what she and Will share is something very special and unique when compared to her peers. Has she fallen in love with him? Dare she risk her heart? Dare she not? Helena fears love, yet she cannot help falling in love with her husband. I thought Helena’s portrayal was utterly enthralling. She is a genuine, loving individual who is overflowing with empathy and love. She is also quick of wit and more than an equal for Will.
This book is unlike many Regency Romance novels because Will is not a rake. He is loveable, but he is no scoundrel. He is a man of wealth and title, which makes him a target for all the mothers who want their debutant daughters to marry well. Will is the most eligible of bachelors, but he has no intention of marrying. He only feels compelled to marry when he realises that his heir would make a disastrous job of managing his estate, and thus he feels the need to marry and have a son of his own, but even then he is hesitant. When he meets Helena, he realises that she is the woman he has been waiting for, and yet he does not offer her a marriage based on love, although he does desire her. It comes as somewhat of a surprise at just how lonely his life was before he met Helena. Despite having wealth, large estates, lavish houses, and even a castle, he finds his home, the place that has eluded him for so long, in her arms. I thought Kullmann’s portrayal of Will was sublime. He is honourable, kind, and desperate to make Helena happy—although sometimes he becomes pre-occupied and takes her a little for granted on occasions. But when he realises his mistakes, he is quick to make amends. Will is not perfect. He does have flaws, but I think this made him all the more endearing.
Kullmann’s portrayal of Britain’s High Society in the 19th Century was masterfully portrayed. The mothers’ desperate attempt at marrying their daughters by fawning over men, such as Will, really brought home how the relationship between money and wealth was viewed. Kullmann has also depicted the darker side of this society—the bitterness, the jealousy, the rivalry and the lengths some were willing to go to so that they could cause a scandal, or to force a marriage. The fact that Will married a woman who had retired from society and seemingly in such a hurry fans the flames for those who have a seemingly insatiable appetite to destroy another’s reputation. I thought Kullmann has really captured the very essence of the Ton in this era.
Family and friendship is an integral theme that runs through the length of this novel. Helena’s loving heart means that Will has the courage to finally embrace the truth of how much his mother had suffered at the hands of his grandfather. Likewise, he is able to form a meaningful relationship with his step-father and siblings.
There are many family secrets and unspoken traumas that finally come out into the light in this novel. Kullmann goes to some length to demonstrate how much women suffered, and how vulnerable they were during this era. With Helena’s confidence and empathy, Will learns some terrible truths about the past, and how members of his family had silently suffered. Helena brings Will’s family together, and he is left wondering how he had managed these long years without her.
A Comfortable Alliance by Catherine Kullmann is a truly wonderful novel and is a real treat for lovers of quality Historical Romance.
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde. The Coffee Pot Book Club
I was born and educated in Dublin. Following a three-year courtship conducted mostly by letter, I moved to Germany where I lived for twenty-five years before returning to Ireland. I have worked in the Irish and New Zealand public services and in the private sector.
I have a keen sense of history and of connection with the past which so often determines the present. I am fascinated by people. I love a good story, especially when characters come to life in a book.
I have always enjoyed writing, I love the fall of words, the shaping of an expressive phrase, the satisfaction when a sentence conveys my meaning exactly. I enjoy plotting and revel in the challenge of evoking a historic era for characters who behave authentically in their period while making their actions and decisions plausible and sympathetic to a modern reader. In addition, I am fanatical about language, especially using the right language as it would have been used during the period about which I am writing. But rewarding as all this craft is, there is nothing to match the moment when a book takes flight, when your characters suddenly determine the route of their journey.
Connect with Catherine: Website • Twitter • Goodreads.
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