The follow on novel from my previous review...
So, this picks up from the disastrous events at Lyme, with Wentworth finally realising that he still loves Anne, but has put himself in a compromising position through his behaviour towards Louisa. Does he follow his heart or behave with honour towards Louisa?
There's obviously no surprises coming up and this book continues in the same vein as before, maintaining a strong interest by the reader through the eyes of Captain Wentworth. After finding that Louisa is on the mend, he decides to take himself off to visit his brother who is newly married in the hope that it will disprove that absence makes the heart grow fonder.
I felt the book drifted a little here, when rather than just getting off to see Edward, Wentworth stays in Portsmouth and has a strange, rather pointless unpleasantness with an old friend and his wife. Likewise he picks up the likable George Tuppins who is then conveniently abandoned a little later in the book. Maybe this is to reflect his unease and lack of direction without Anne, but it was a little irritating.
Marriage has brought a change to Edward and the two brothers manage to rekindle some of their previous closeness. I enjoyed the change of perspective in this part and it gave some light relief amongst the intense soul searching, but found Edward's shame of his previous employment a bit "tacked on" rather than being necessary for moving the story on or deepening characterisation.
However, it all started to race along again when the protagonists are in Bath. Lady Russell finally shows some sense rather than snobbery and happily Baronet Elliot doesn't! Mr Elliot seemed very thinly drawn and was a bit of a textbook baddy (boo, hiss!) and his evil plan is very quickly sketched over. However, the letter (swoon!) is handled beautifully and that made me very happy!
So we get our happy ending and the book continues on a little further than the original and it's here that we're on uncharted land, and sadly this is where I was a bit disappointed.
**Spoiler...so highlight text below to read**
Wentworth receives orders to return to London in ten days, the marriage is arranged to be in seven. Anne convinces him to go to Gretna Green to have a few more days as man and wife before returning to the Navy. Now, I couldn't see the point in this, with the 3-4 days it'd take to travel there, they'd only be married, at best, three days earlier and I felt it was not fitting with my image of Anne's personality. I've always seen Anne as practical and sensible and surely if they've managed to wait for eight and half years they can manage a few extra days, no matter how Kaye tries to crank up the sexual tension.
The tatty inn they stay in on their wedding night just seemed too sordid for the fastidious and proud Wentworth and the gentile Anne. Maybe it was to contrast with Anne's family and set the scene for married life to a Naval captain, but it seemed to lack the romance that develops during their time in Bath and the tone and sentiments of the letter.
Happily, despite the ending, I still love Wentworth and Anne comes across as quietly determined rather than simply passive. I've rated it slightly less than the previous novel, due to my disappointment in how it all draws to a close and for the newly added characters that didn't seem to go anywhere or serve any real purpose. (Unless there is another book planned, but I can't find it on Amazon!)