Am sitting here at the Nissan service centre waiting for my car to be serviced. Quite a long queue since tomorrow is Deepavalli and the beginning of a long weekend. Luckily I've got Mary Balogh's book with me - One Night For Love.
Neville Wyatt, Earl of Kilbourne, is about to get married. His future wife is a step cousin and he has known her all his life. Suddenly just as the music is about to start, a young woman in ragged clothes rushes to the altar and says she is his wife! And true enough Neville is shocked to see that it is indeed Lily, his beloved wife whom he had married when he was in the army. But she had been shot and believed to have died. Neville himself saw the bullet going into her chest just before he himself was shot. Lying in hospital later and being told that Lily had indeed died made him realise that soldiering was not for him. He went back to his estate after his father died to resume his duties as a nobleman.
Lily meanwhile had not died. She was captured, first by The French and later by Spanish partisans who treated her badly. After the war Lily went back to Portugal to trace her husband to arrive just in time to prevent him getting married. But will they live happily ever after? What about Lauren, Neville's jilted bride? Can Lily be the mistress of Kilbourne Abbey?
Like her other novels about Regency and Victorian England, this book shows a fairly wide knowledge of life and society of the time. Mary Balogh does not shy away from the more gruesome stories of war like so many other writers who write about the era. Her women characters are strong and sometimes quite independent, even wilful at times. Lily is no less. When she discovers that her marriage to Neville was not legal she insisted on leaving him, in spite of the fact that Neville loves her and begs her to stay. Actually there are times when she gets on my nerves and I wish she would be less stubborn but it's a heartbreaking story and well written. When, Lilly leaves Kilbourne she lives with Elizabeth, Neville's aunt who takes her under her wings and trains her to become a noble woman and one who can be with Neville as his equal.The story takes a sudden twist when Lily is threatened with murder. There are lots of twists and turns in this story of thwarted love and is quite un-put-downable.