Devil's Return by Sandra Schwab Allan's Miscellany #4
Publication Date: August 15, 2014
Genres: Historical, Romance
SynopsisSeven years ago Fran and Alex were very much in love. Yet because Alex was only a younger son with no prospects to speak of, Fran’s family pressured her into breaking the engagement and marrying a rich, titled man instead. Filled with bitterness, Alex left England for the New World. Now he is back, more dangerous and more cynical than ever before. He has found fame and fortune as an adventurer, traveling the world from America to the Near East and writing about his travels for Allan’s Miscellany. He has come to London to drum up interest for his friend’s archeological excavations. Soon, he finds himself the darling of London society, admired by men, wooed by women. Fate has not been so kind to Fran. After a disastrous marriage, which has left her with deep emotional and physical scars, she is widowed and now lives in genteel poverty. By chance, Alex and Fran’s paths cross again. They have both changed so much, and past betrayals and past hurts still divide them. So surely there can be no second chance for their love…
“Have you heard?” Mrs. Major Nathaniel Ryder said at the breakfast table in her very fashionable London town house that morning. “Mr. Alexander Crenshaw has returned.”
Her husband raised his brows. “Indeed? I didn’t know you had an interest in adventurers, my dear.”
Mrs. Ryder giggled prettily. “Oh, there is no need to worry about a possible competitor, major. We practically grew up together. Didn’t you know? The Crenshaw lands neighbor on our father’s estate. Quite a wild boy, he was. The despair of his parents. A nice, good family, the Crenshaws. Though not” she added quickly, lest there should be any doubt about it, “quite as grand as the Harringtons, of course. There was some bitterness about that, wasn’t there, Frances?”
“There might have been,” her sister murmured, her lips white, her hands firmly intertwined on her lap so nobody would notice how much they were shaking. Thank God, nobody had noticed the rattling of her teacup as Victoria had made her surprising announcement.
Hot tea had spilled over her fingers, but Fran had welcomed the sharp pain, a distraction from the even sharper pain in her heart.
That it could still sting, even after all this time…
Seven years, her contrary mind reminded her. Seven years and one month and nine days. It had been March, a wet and windy March, but so full of the promise of spring, so full of—
“He was always wild, that Alexander Crenshaw,” Victoria continued. “They called him the Devil even back then. I don’t think I shall know him when I meet him now. He is not the kind of acquaintance one would want to acknowledge in any way. Lord, if I think of the scrapes he got into! It was quite shocking!”
“All boys get into scrapes,” the major said mildly, as he cut into his bacon and eggs.
“Not such scrapes! A drunkard at eleven!”
That had been an accident, when Alex, who loved sweet cherries, had snatched a bottle of juice from the pantry. Only it hadn’t been juice, but wine, and Alex had ended up lurching around the high street of Elworth. It had caused quite a scandal, and the vicar had expressed his shock at the depravity of youth.
I was given book for honest review. Fran had an operation that turned her into an outcast from her family and society. Alex heartbroken left and became an adventurer. Alex has returned to England in much better straights than when he left. Chance meetings between the two bring up all of the feelings they had put behind them. While short Devil’s Return touches on a topic of health issue that is still even in this day and age somewhat touchy. I thought Alex handled it admirably. And would have liked it to be a little bit longer to get more of their reunion.