The Trouble with True Love
By Laura Lee Guhrke
Release Date: January 30, 2018
Reviewed by Janga
Clara Deverill has never shared her sister Irene’s ambitions concerning their family newspaper business. But when Irene, recently married to Henry Cavanaugh, Duke of Torquil (The Truth about Love and Dukes), decides to prolong her honeymoon and delay her return to The Weekly Gazette, Clara feels that she has no choice but to fill in for her sister, regardless of how incompetent she feels to do so. Aware of all the responsibility Irene accepted after their mother’s death and their father’s retreat into alcoholism, Clara doesn’t even tell Irene that their brother Jonathan, who was supposed to take over the helm of the Gazette, is remaining in America to work his newly discovered silver mine.
Clara is having problems with the difficult editor Irene hired, but her biggest concern is the Lady Truelove column. Irene launched the lovelorn column, and it proved to be the salvation of the Gazette. Lady Truelove’s identity is a closely guarded secret. Clara must protect the secret and try to emulate her sister’s success in writing the column, something she feels woefully unfit to do. She is in a tearoom hoping for inspiration when she overhears a conversation between two gentlemen seated at the next table. One gentleman is seeking his friend’s advice about how to handle the problem of a lover who is bent on becoming a wife. His friend gives him very specific advice about what to say to the woman that will allow the man to achieve his goal of avoiding marriage without ending the affair. Clara is furious about the manipulation and deception that will be practiced on the woman. She has her inspiration for the Lady Truelove column. She will warn the woman about how her lover is playing her.
Rex Pierpont, Viscount Galbraith, is known as an accomplished rake who is adamantly opposed to marriage. His parents’ example makes his decision never to marry a reasonable one, but it is a position his Aunt Petunia refuses to accept. She is determined to find him a suitable bride, and because he is devoted to his aunt and dependent upon her generosity since his father cut off his income, he works at appeasing her by meeting her candidates. It is his aunt who introduces him to Clara. He requests a dance and discovers that the young woman who seems familiar to him is not another demure miss but a refreshingly honest young woman who is apparently not at all impressed with his charms.
It is not until his friend Lionel Strange accuses him of betrayal, follows up the verbal attack with a punch in the face, and presents the latest Lady Truelove column as evidence of Rex’s perfidy that Rex remembers seeing Clara in the tearoom where he gave Lionel the advice that has been quoted verbatim in Lady Truelove’s column. Several days later, he confronts her in her Gazette office, threatening to expose Lady Truelove’s identity. Instead of cowering at his threat, Clara proposes that Rex become Lady Truelove. What follows is a delightfully unusual courtship dance that moves the two antagonists to friendship and then to a love that grows naturally from their discoveries about one another.
This is the second book in Guhrke’s Dear Lady Truelove series, and I found it a more compelling read than the first book on several counts. As a second-wave feminist, I can remember the days when our enthusiasm for women’s progress led some to devalue women who were content in more traditional roles. I think that pattern is being repeated in today’s feminism, and I see it reflected in the heroines of historical romance. I love to see heroines challenge the restrictions placed on women, but I don’t think imposing a one-size-fits-all definition of what a woman should be--in life or in fiction—is freedom. I liked that Clara is her sister’s opposite in many respects. Her dream is to be a wife and mother. This dream does not mean that she lacks intelligence or an awareness of the injustices that affect the lives of women. Clara comes into her own in this story and discovers that she is not inferior to her sister, only different from her.
I adored Rex. The reader learns early on that however rakish his reputation, he is, in reality, a man of honor with a keen sense of responsibility and a great capacity for love. Watching his unconscious nurturing of Clara as he fosters her confidence and his growing into a no-holds-barred love for her was a joy. The chemistry between Rex and Clara is potent. Although the sparks are there from the beginning, Guhrke does not focus on the physical to the exclusion of other facets of their relationship.
If you like historical romance with richly developed characters that offers slow-burn rather than insta-lust, I think you will like this one as much as I did. I give it high marks and recommend it as one of the best historical choices for the month.