Monday, August 17, 2015

Prelude for a Lord (Gentlemen Quartet #1) by Camille Elliot

Prelude for a Lord
The Gentlemen Quartet Series
Camille Elliot
Zondervan Publishers

Official Backpage Synopsis

An awkward young woman. A haunted young man. A forbidden instrument. Can the love of music bring them together . . . or will it tear them apart?

Bath, England—1810

At twenty-eight, Alethea Sutherton is past her prime for courtship; but social mores have never been her forté. She might be a lady, but she is first and foremost a musician.

In Regency England, however, the violin is considered an inappropriate instrument for a lady. Ostracized by society for her passion, Alethea practices in secret and waits for her chance to flee to the Continent, where she can play without scandal.

But when a thief’s interest in her violin endangers her and her family, Alethea is determined to discover the enigmatic origins of her instrument . . . with the help of the dark, brooding Lord Dommick.

Scarred by war, Dommick finds solace only in playing his violin. He is persuaded to help Alethea, and discovers an entirely new yearning in his soul.

Alethea finds her reluctant heart drawn to Dommick in the sweetest of duets . . . just as the thief’s desperation builds to a tragic crescendo . . .

My Take in 3 Parts

The Theme
This tale really is about two people with different griefs and sufferings finding one another. Alethea and Dommick discover they can help one another heal, because each of their sufferings is a private embarrassment to themselves, Dommick especially. How did you treat a man with PTSD in 1810? When the nightmares began after he returned from fighting Bonaparte, what did his family do? They didn't know what else to do with him and so he was labeled the Mad Baron because he did not know how to face the horror he saw in battle. He is a strong man with a fierce countenance and a determined loyalty to his family, but he only views himself as weak because of the nightmares that attack him at any given time. He does not live up to societal expectations and so his entire family's reputation is at risk because of that "weakness."

It's hard living up to the expectations of others, but even harder when those expectations go contrary to our own nature. Alethea loves to play the violin. It is the height of her pleasure, her purest moment of joy, the time when she feels the most liberated. Yet it isn't proper for a young woman in 1810 to play the violin because it requires so much physical movement that draws improper attention to the body.

Alethea must stand firm against the tide of judgement that threatens to wash her away. There is nothing improper in her behavior. She is absolutely proper, just a trifle odd according to societal standards.

It is an exquisite theme of healing and understanding the pain of others.

The Characters
Every single lead character has become family to me. I grieved with Dommick on the most intimate levels, feared for Alethea and Clare's (Dommick's sister) safety, laughed at Lord Ian's antics, and experienced a yearning in my secret soul to know a man like Lord Ravenhurst. Dommick's mother, Alethea's aunt, little obnoxious Margaret who is Alethea's cousin, everyone spoke to me in some way. There isn't a single lead character that I disliked, and that for me is absolutely rare.

But let's start with Alethea. She is like a sister to me because we are like one another. I have felt the same uncertainty she feels because she is just different enough to be socially unacceptable. I love who I am, the interests I have, the views I hold most dear, and the habits I maintain. But I am different from other women in their early 30s and there are times when I quail with fear because I know that I am different and wonder if I should change. The answer, of course, is no. I am who I am, with my strengths and talents, and the Lord loves me for them. Why should I change them? Alethea is the same, with her love of the violin and long energetic walks, and her determination to cling to the things she loves most. Her vision for her future alters after she meets Dommick, of course, but he does not change her. And I love that.

As for Dommick, I adored him. His relationship with Alethea took the entire book to mature. It did not suddenly leap from mild irritation to passionate adoration. It was slow and gentle, just as one would expect to happen with love. He is strong in his protection of his mother and sister, values Lord Ian and Lord Raven as his dearest friends, and finds his way back out of the darkness that threatens to engulf him in this novel. He felt real, authentic, more real than any other male lead I've encountered in this past year. I feel like I know him, the innermost part of his heart and mind, the strengths and the weaknesses. It is a marvelous feeling.

Now on to Lord Ian and Lord Raven. Aww, Lord Ian. Such a foolhardy madcap of the first order, and yet endearing all the same. He is the daredevil, the one who flirts with anything in skirts, and the one who leaps into action. He is charming and fun and crazy, and I like him, but it is already Lord Raven that has captured my heart. It is Lord Raven who supported Dommick during his hardest times. It is Lord Raven who observes and supports quietly, all while fully prepared to unleash his dry wit upon friends and family. He is calm and cool, and yet at the same, full of yearning for something. I even anticipate a conflict between Lord Ian and Lord Raven in regards to Dommick's sister Clare in a future book. Lord Raven keeps his feelings close, unwilling to share them with just anyone, but I sense his attraction to Clare. He may just be too late. He is the ideal Regency hero, somewhat like Mr. Darcy and yet not, if that makes any sense at all.

The Writing
Camille Elliot is masterful at her craft. I would not change a single thing in all of Prelude for a Lord unless it were to draw it out even longer. I wanted to never emerge from her powerful prose. Every time I picked up this book, after 2 or 3 pages, it was like I sank between the covers and was there, in Bath in 1810, knowing and loving these people. Now that is the epitome of powerful writing!

Final Thoughts

I told one of my Goodreads buddies that this book felt like coming home to an old friend I hadn't seen in years. I LOVE it that much! And if you've been following my reviews for awhile, you know that I don't say that unreservedly very often. But I do LOVE THIS BOOK. Every moment captured me in new ways, and I love how I couldn't predict the events as they unfolded. Everything was a surprise, and that enabled me to sink into this story with my entire being.

Thank you, Camille, for this book. For this series! Because I am so far over the moon at knowing you're writing an entire series! You're giving me Lord Ian's story and Lord Raven's story and I suspect even David's story even though he wasn't a character in this particular book. You are marvelous in every respect, and I now have to actually buy Prelude for a Lord because it has become such a huge part of myself!


  1. Well, sounds like I'm going to have to read it! I usually shy away from modern books set in Regency times, because none I've read so far even came close to Austen, but this sounds very good!

    1. I genuinely loved this book and did not expect to so that was such a pleasant surprise. For me, with my life what it is at this very moment, Prelude was exactly what I needed!

      I hope you if you do read it, that you'll enjoy it as much as I did, Lizzie!

  2. Clearly, this is going on my To Read list RIGHT NOW!

    1. I love this book more than I ever dreamed possible and I hope you enjoy it equally as much!

    2. (Shh -- don't tell anyone, but I totally bought this today.)

    3. SQUEEEE!!!! If you hate it, though, let me down gently. :)

  3. What a great review! Sounds like a totally amazing book and I will definitely put in on my To Be Read list!


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