Review: Her Dear & Loving Husband by Meredith Allard (BBT tour stop)

Perfect cover for the story, IMO.
Title: Her Dear & Loving Husband
Series: Loving Husband, #1 (trilogy)
Genres/Themes: paranormal romance; (partial) historical fiction; love lost and found
Author: Meredith Allard

Quick Take:
An intensely sweet romance is tied to a riveting narrative on the Salem witch trials. Clearly, much research went into crafting the descriptions of the setting and related cultural intricacies.

Book Description:
James Wentworth has a secret. He lives quietly in Salem, Massachusetts, making few ties anywhere. One night his private world is turned upside down when he meets Sarah Alexander, a dead ringer for his wife, Elizabeth. Though it has been years since Elizabeth's death, James cannot move on.
     Sarah also has a secret. She is haunted by nightmares about the Salem Witch Trials, and every night she is awakened by visions of hangings, being arrested, and dying in jail. Despite the obstacles of their secrets, James and Sarah fall in love. As James comes to terms with his feelings for Sarah, he must dodge accusations from a reporter desperate to prove that James is not who, or what, he seems to be. With the help of their friends, witches Jennifer and Olivia, James and Sarah piece their stories together and discover a mystery that may bind them in ways they never imagined. Will James make the ultimate sacrifice to protect Sarah and prevent a new hunt from bringing hysteria to Salem again?

Review:
Before reading this book, I'd never heard of Ann Bradstreet nor her poem, "To My Dear and Loving Husband." (I know: nuts, right?) In fact, there was much I didn't know about the general time frame and setting that's highlighted in Meredith Allard's To My Dear and Loving Husband--beyond the basics taught in grade school, that is. Having read the book, however, I'm riveted and want to know more.

A large portion of my newly rekindled interest in Salem, Massachusetts during the seventeenth century is due to the great amount of detail put forth in Allard's book. It's immediately and clearly obvious that the author's done her homework; though this novel is a piece of fiction, it felt almost like a first-person account of the witch trials. The book shifts between present and past through both the recollections of James Wentworth and the vivid dreams of Sarah Alexander. I love that such vividness can be created about real historical events, even when the character recounting the experiences is fictional. Likewise, the fact that the main character that "experienced" this place and time is...other...was seamless and...well, it worked magnificently.

It's hard to think of this book as a typical paranormal romance, really. The fact that the main character qualifies as paranormal (the description doesn't specify what, so neither will I! ^_^) is almost secondary to the love story itself. In this tale, the paranormal aspect used more as a way to magnify the loss and suffering that James was forced to endure. Heck, the romance is actually quite chaste and innocent for the most part, because the emotional struggles of both James and Sarah are the focus. I really dug that; it's nice to sometimes get away from the love-scene fest of many other books.

The paranormal slant is also used as a means of putting the fervor and hypocrisy of the witch trials into a new context and setting: present-day Salem, Massachusetts. I found the parallels well-drawn and relevant; again, even though a paranormal bent is added. James at one point notes the oft-heard quote, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

Throughout the first half of this book, I had a hard time figuring out how this story would extent into another book, much less a trilogy. Now, I don't care; I just want more! :o) Her Dear & Loving Husband is paranormal, romantic, historical, and dramatic, but it's more than any of those parts, and excited about delving into more of the characters' struggles in the as-yet unreleased follow-up, Her Loving Husband's Curse.

Rating: 4 of 5 stars
"I really liked it."


This has been a tour stop by Bewitching Book Tours. To see what other coolness lurks about for Allard's book, click here.

...or click the image.

5 comments:

  1. Dunno, not for me I guess, but I liked your review. Good that you enjoyed it

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  2. Indeed, Blodeuedd, it's not for everyone, especially if the 1600s Salem aspect is not one's thing. Wasn't sure what to expect before reading it, myself.

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  3. Book sounds very interesting - Im picky with para romances but like this plot. Also, cover is gorgeous

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  4. Hi Erin! I hope you like it if you do check it out. Indeed, the cover is lovely. And it turns out that it's the perfect fit for the story and its focus; you'll see. ^_^

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you Erin and Alisha! I loved the cover from the moment I saw it. I agree, Alisha--it does fit the story perfectly.

    Meredith Allard

    ReplyDelete

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