Always be the woman I know you to be. Be the one who wishes to go west when everyone else is going south. For that is the only woman I could ever allow myself to love.  Because I need a woman to do more than love me. I need a woman willing to fight for me even when I am unable to fight for myself.”

Redonk Nutshell: Man and woman from two different worlds struggle to work out their class differences to be together

I’m such a sucker for regency romances set in New York City.  For the win, baby!  I was hooked from page one in Ms. Marvelle’s latest, Forever and a Day.  Georgia Milton is a fiercely independent Irish American making the best of her lower class life in NYC’s Five Point district.  When a handsome British man tries to tackle the thief of her reticule and gets a nasty knock on the head, she feels guilty.  Her guilt increases when Brit awakens having no memory of who he is.  She reluctantly agrees to take him in, and over the next several days they get to know each other, and of course, a forbidden attraction ensues.

When Brit finally remembers who he is, it’s plainly obvious that he and Georgia wouldn’t be permitted to stay together.  He would have to give up his life (which he considers) or have her pretend to be someone she’s not (which she considers).  What we get is a tug-of-war between two stubborn headed, love sick crazy people who are desperate to stay together and prove everyone around them wrong.I

 

It feels natural to think of this book in three parts.  Part 1: Robinson meets Georgia

There are so many ways an amnesia story could go wrong, but Ms. Marvelle handles it with ease.  What makes it work are her characters.  There’s no deception involved – Georgia makes it plain to her Brit from the first moment that she has no desire to get involved with him or make things complicated.  He’s inclined to agree, but he can’t help the pull she has over him.  Georgia is blunt with her words and thoughts, having no desire or need to sugar coat things.  She grew up in the toughest neighborhood around, after all, where sugar coating gets you dirked.  Our Brit, who briefly believed himself to be named Robinson Crusoe, is reluctant to allow her to “dirty him up” so she can safely sneak him into her neighborhood unnoticed:

“I’m not at all comfortable with you touching me or undressing me.  You are, after all, a very attractive woman and I would hate for this to progress beyond anything either of us would be able to control once passion is fully unleashed.” 

She set her hands on her hips. What a cad.

“If I were lookin’ to progress things, Robinson, I’d be going straight for the trousers. Rest assured, a man’s throat never once made me moan and I highly doubt yours will either.”  

He stared at her, his expression strained. “Refrain from talking to me in such crass tones.”

“I wouldn’t have to talk at all if you were cooperatin’. Now cease bein’ so damn stupid. I’m here to help.”

The banter between these two is wonderful.  Despite Georgia’s coarse upbringing, she is a compassionate and heartfelt person who truly wants to help Robinson.  Robinson, meanwhile, finds himself truly struggling with his memory loss and his complete inability to know what kind of man he is.  Which brings us to Part 2: Robinson meets Yardley

So now we know who Robinson is.  By the way, I’m not telling. See if you can convince yourself to go into this book without reading too much about it. That’s what I did, and  I’m glad for it.  I had NO idea who Robinson was, and I think it really added perspective to it.  Once our boy remembers who he is, he struggles with the realities of his relationship with Georgia.  The problem is that he truly loves her, and his station in life wouldn’t accept her as who she is.  While Robinson isn’t against leaving behind his life of privilege, he realizes there are many who look to him to shoulder the responsibility of his title.  In other words  – expectations; he haz them. He considers taking Georgia with him, but then changes his mind, knowing that Georgia would never truly find happiness in the shell of an aristocrat.

Which brings Part 3: Georgia Transforms herself to meet Yardley

With the help of eccentric friends in high places, Georgia manages to transform herself from a gutter rat to a refined lady in order to enter into Yardley’s circle of friends.  He doesn’t see her coming, and when he realizes what she’s done, he’s floored.  And awed.  And humbled.

The story has its flaws – there were times I wanted to smack Robinson because of his back-and-forth notions, as well as Georgia for being so quick to crawl when she realizes her pauper is a “prince.”  There are some subplots that deterred my attention from the main story, minor arcs that didn’t really pan out for me. Regardless, I really enjoyed Robinson and Georgia’s story.  It’s an uphill battle in the name of passion, a war raged with witty strategy and poignant reality.

Forever and a Day by Delilah Marvelle, 384 pgs, 12/20/11

Rating: B

Romance: 3/5       Raunch: 2/5

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