Title: Never Too Late
Author: Christina Courtenay
Published: 24 December 2014
Publisher: Choc Lit
Can true love be rekindled?
Maude is devastated when the interference of her strict father prevents her from eloping with Luke Hexham. It is not long before she is married off to Edward, Luke’s cousin – a good match in her father’s eyes but an abhorrent one to his daughter.
Eight years later, Edward is dead. Maude, now Lady Hexham, is appalled to find his entire estate is to go to Luke – the man she still loves – with no provision for either herself or her young daughter.
Luke has never forgotten Maude’s apparent betrayal, but he has the means to help her. Maude doesn’t want his charity, but agrees to stay as his paid housekeeper.
Soon Maude and Luke realise that perhaps it is never too late for true love. But, even after eight years, there is still somebody who would stop at nothing to keep them apart …
I am grateful to Choc Lit Publishing for providing me with a copy of Never Too Late in return for an honest review.
This is the fourth regency novella from novelist Christina Courtenay.
Whilst being a novella, and therefore a very quick read, this was a perfect example of a great Regency romance.
The heroine, Maude, was prevented by her father from marrying Luke and forced into an unhappy marriage with his cousin. The only good thing to come out of that loveless marriage was her young daughter. Her life now revolves around her young daughter and trying to maintain a household with little available money, whilst her husband seeks his pleasures elsewhere. Maude is a very likeable character. Despite her circumstances, she does not complain or look for sympathy, rather she faces her lot in life with stoicism and grace earning the love and respect of her staff and friends.
When her husband, Edward Hexham, dies, the estate reverts to his cousin and Maude’s former love interest, Luke Hexham.
Luke is aware of his duty and despite any lingering ill-feelings towards her, he invites Maude and her daughter to remain in their home. This leads to some awkward times whilst Maude and Luke become reacquainted.
Luke is a perfect hero, kind, charming, likeable and willing to fight to protect those he cares about.
As emotions begin to rekindle between the former lovers, matters are complicated by the arrival of the new heir to the estate (yet another cousin) and a companion/chaperone whose intentions may not be as innocent as they appear.
Courtenay has managed to fit in an impressive amount into a short book. There is intrigue, danger, poisoning, kidnapping, damsels in distress, heroes, duels and romance – everything that should be found in abundance within a good Regency novel.
This is an easy and entertaining book: full of action, terribly romantic and very well written. My only complaint was that it was too short. I could have continued reading about Maude and Luke all day! Although, despite the length of the novella, I still felt that there was enough packed into the story to make me feel as though I had read a full-sized novel. Courtenay really has done a superb job with Never Too Late and I will certainly be checking out the rest of her publications.
About the Author
Christina Courtenay lives in Herefordshire and is married with two children. Although born in England, she is half Swedish and was brought up in Sweden. In her teens, the family moved to Japan and she had the opportunity to travel extensively in the Far East and other parts of the world.
Christina is a committee member of the Romantic Novelists' Association (currently their Chairman). She has won several of their prizes - the Elizabeth Goudge Trophy for a historical short story in 2001, the Katie Fforde Bursary in 2006 and the RoNA for Best Historical in 2012 and 2014 (see below).
Her debut novel Trade Winds, a historical romance and adventure story, was short-listed for the Pure Passion Award for Best Historical Fiction 2011. Her second novel, The Scarlet Kimono, received the Best Historical Fiction prize for the Big Red Read 2011. Her novels Highland Storms and The Gilded Fan both won the RoNA (Romantic Novelists Association Award) for Best Historical Romantic Novel (Highland Storms in 2012 and The Gilded Fan in 2014), while The Silent Touch of Shadows (time slip) won the Festival of Romance award for Best Historical in 2013.
Christina also writes contemporary YA and New England Rocks was shortlisted for the RoNAs in the YA category in 2014. (The second book in the series, New England Crush, was published under a different name - Pia Fenton.)
As well as her novels, Christina has had four Regency novellas published, all available in Large Print and as ebooks.
Her hobbies include genealogy, archaeology (the armchair variety), listening to loud rock music and collecting things. She loves dogs, reading and chocolate.