Dell, May 2002, 5.99, 384 pp.
In 1836 England, Sophie Dane chases “freedom” when she finally decides to leave her cruel husband to become a companion to Honorine, as the woman travels abroad. Sophie knows the price she will pay is a divorce from her spouse and non-existence except in terms of gossipy scandal from her peers. Legally not being married is simply great to Sophie, but the Ton reaction is a high price. Still, to the beleaguered Sophie, fleeing this marriage is worth everything.
In 1844, Honorine decides to return to England taking Sophie with her. Honorine cares for Lord William Hamilton, recovering from a stroke. William's illegitimate son Caleb has also come from the continent to help his father. Caleb and Sophie are immediately attracted to one another, but they first must confront, almost accost the past, if they are to pursue a future together.
THE SECRET LOVER is first and foremost an early Victorian romance. However, the tale contains several other elements involving inter-family relationships, not all positive, that make for a stronger blend than usually found within the sub-genre. The prime characters are fully developed so that the audience understands what drives them to risk scandal. Romance readers will enjoy reading Julia London's mid nineteenth century novel that has a sort of Dickens undercoat to an already engaging tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner