From it’s elegantly designed cover to its superb writing, Innocence is a skillfully constructed Regency. It is so convincing in its historical guise that I was shocked when I read that it originated as a Twilight non-canon fan fiction.
Ignorance is supposed to be bliss, but in Anneliese Barlow’s experience, it leads to poor choices and unnecessarily tragic outcomes . . . and there is nothing blissful about either.
Forced to flee her father’s brutal heir, Anneliese masquerades as Lisa Brown, a servant in the grand, country mansion of the Duke of Worthington. Befriended by her fellow maids, she tries—and fails—to avoid attention while awaiting the return of the duke, her father’s friend. Discovering the life of gentility she had known was a virtual fairy tale, reality a dark and forbidding place, Lisa faces danger at every turn.
Like Cinderella, Anneliese is thrust into a life of servitude upon her father’s death. Fleeing her father’s murderer and heir she arrives at the country seat of the Duke only to find he is honeymooning and likely to be away for quite some time. Resigned to concealing herself as a servant until she can prevail upon the Duke to help her, Anneliese did not count on coming to the attention of the Duke’s handsome heir Nathaniel Stanton, the Marquis of Marsden.
“Don’t be sad. The love we share is priceless, and I’ll do anything to protect it – to protect you – and for us to be together.”
Anything but marry me, she thought but did not pull away from his embrace.
Descended from royalty Nathaniel has to gain the approval of the King in his choice of a bride. Even a woman of the lower nobility would not be suitable even if he were disposed to marry, which he is not, believing that love only exists outside the bonds of matrimony.
Truly my only criticism of Innocence would be the Anneliese’s initial escape from her home. After gunning down her father in cold blood in a truly James Bond type plot device Lord Copeland decrees that she is to await his return after which time they will marry with only the vaguest threat to the servants of “you will be sorry” upon his exit.
I was particularly impressed with Ms. de Sallier’s character Anneliese, depicting a sheltered naive character without crossing the boundary into insipidity is no mean feat. Nathaniel, in my mind was less likable than Anneliese but yet he was completely in keeping with men of his class at that period in history. Convinced that she cannot share her secret with Nathaniel, unwilling to leave him Anneliese resigns herself to remaining in hiding. From the opening scene where her father is literally slaughtered in front of her the reader accompanies Anneliese on her unwilling journey from Innocence to knowledge as irrevocably as Eve.
The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)
AUTHOR: Elise de Sallier
RATING: 4 Stars
GENRE: Historical Romance
Disclaimer: ARC was kindly provided by the publisher for an honest review.