Title: One Night for Love
Genre: Romance/ Historical
Stand alone or series: It is part a of series of books evolving around the same family/friends. This one being the first one can be read as a standalone.
Summary: Amazon.com says Mary Balogh’s latest historical romance, One Night for Love, will delight readers with the skillfully woven tale of Neville Wyatt, Major Lord Newbury, the Earl of Kilbourne, and Lily Doyle, beautiful but common-born daughter of Kilbourne’s sergeant, who has spent her life following her father and England’s army. When Lily’s father is mortally wounded, Neville promises the dying man that he will protect Lily by marrying her and giving her his name; as an officer’s wife–and a viscountess to boot–Lily will be treated with respect in case of capture. But the two share only one glorious night of passion and discovery after their wedding, for the next day Neville watches in horror as Lily, his wife and the woman he loves, is killed in a skirmish with the French. He, too, is severely wounded and barely escapes with his life. Eighteen months later, Neville is again preparing to be married, this time to the eminently suitable young woman his family has always planned for him to wed. However, one of the guests, albeit uninvited, has grounds to object to the union; the groom is already married–to her! Neville and Lily struggle to wed their worlds together while overcoming the horror of Lily’s capture and imprisonment, while a secret lurks nearby that threatens to destroy their growing love. Balogh’s latest effort is an extraordinary tale of love found, lost, and found again.
Why did I read this book: Catching up with the genre, I couldn’t not read Mary Balogh. This is my first of hers and certainly not the last.
But as he stands in the church, it is not Lauren who walks towards him. It is Lily, dressed with shabby clothes, looking like a beggar. Lily who spent the past two years as a prisoner to Spanish partisans, being kept as whore by their leader. Lily, who has endured it all so she could survive and go back to her husband. Lily, who cannot read or write, who knows nothing of life but the life of the army and who has an innocence about her that is captivating. This is no Lady but she is his wife. So, now what?
Of course, he calls off the wedding and now must face the consequences of his acts before his family, his friends and his fiancée. Even though Neville is extremely happy that Lily is alive and well, for she is the love of his life, he still feels bad about Lauren. They are friends and he respects her and wishes her no harm. Lauren on the other hand, could have been portrayed as a villain or a bitch but instead it is easy to relate to her and her suffering for being second best. She struggles to be happy for Neville and at the same time trying not to hate Lily for stealing her place. Similarly, his mother is shocked by the turn of events and try to come to terms with her son’s true wife. And poor Lily is completely overwhelmed by the reality of the circumstances.
This is one the most serious romance novel I read. It is about two people that love each other from the start but realise that love is not everything and does not conquer all. It is not the usual everything-will-be-fine-as-long-as- we- have- love kind of romance. It is a realistic and mature take starting with everyone’s reactions to the circumstances down to Lily’s objective realisation that she is inferior to him even though he loves her with all his heart and expects no change from her.
He was happy that she was innocent and did not think there was a problem with her being ignorant. But she wants more and when they find out that their wedding was never made official, as the documents were lost in the attack they suffered, she is relieved. Neville wants to make it official as soon as possible but she refuses because she believes it is not her rightful place. This moment was so heartbreaking because they truly do love each other, they have respect, they are friends most of all who feel free next to each other, who can laugh and talk for hours but who cannot ultimately, escape their environment.
“They had been equals as lovers. But two persons could not live on love to the exclusion of all else. And there was nothing else in which there was any equality between them.”
So she leaves to work as companion for his aunt Elizabeth. He is adamant to have Lily back but Elizabeth shows him how immensely selfish he is being by trying to keep Lily from changing. She opens his eyes and explains that one can grow and learn new things and still be the same person inside only better and more prepared for the world. And this is what she sets to do, to help Lilly prepare herself for the world that she lives in and to give her the opportunity to choose what to do with her life. Lily does not expect any romantic gestures to save her, instead she sets out to do it herself and until she can look into his eyes and feel that they are standing on equal grounds she will not go back.
I really like this book. It is well written and it touches rarely discussed issues in the world of romance specially the fact that Lily basically whored herself so that she could live. She feels guilty for fighting to survive instead of fighting for her honour. Her thoughts were for survival and survival alone and I cannot blame her, nor did Neville.
Notable quotes/ parts: in the end, they have a most emotional conversation about Lilly’s days with her captor. Throughout this time she has not being able to forgive herself for allowing another man to use her body and Neville has never being able to forgive himself for not being there for her and for going back to England and proceeding with his life. So they exchange the words that they both need to hear so they could forgive themselves and get on with their lives: “it does not need to be said, because there was no real guilt”, but I forgive you Lilly and I forgive you Neville for all of that has happened. *Cries*