Saturday, May 15, 2010
New York Times bestselling author Judith McNaught sweeps readers from the wilds of America to elegant 1820s London in this unforgettable romantic adventure.
A teacher in a school for wealthy young ladies, Sheridan, Bromleigh is hired to accompany one of her students, heiress Charise Lancaster, to England to meet her fiancé. When her charge elopes with a stranger, Sheridan wonders how she will ever explain it to Charise's intended, Lord Burleton.
Standing on the pier, Stephen Westmoreland, the Earl of Langford, assumes the young woman coming toward him is Charise Lancaster -- and informs her of his inadvertent role in a fatal accident involving Lord Burleton the night before. And just as Sheridan is about to speak, she steps into the path of a cargo net loaded with crates!
Sheridan awakens in Westmoreland's mansion with no memory of who she is; the only hint of her past is the puzzling fact that everyone calls her Miss Lancaster. All she truly knows is that she is falling in love with a handsome English earl, and that the life unfolding before her seems full of wondrous possibilities...
I loved this sequel to Whitney, My Love. The story picks up a few years later from where Whitney left off. Here the story centers on Stephen, brother to Clayton Westmoreland. Stephen is now a jaded and cynical man about town, determined to never let a women into his life again who will deceive him the same way a certain woman from his past had done.
I loved seeing some of our old friends from Whitney and found many of the same plot devices used again - but who cares? They were great and I loved every minute! My one gripe is the long period set in America before our heroine, Sherry goes to England. It seemed endless and a little bit dull.
The basic story is about mistaken identities and amnesia. Stephen Westmoreland, minding his own business on his way home early one morning from trysting with his mistress, runs over a young lord who runs out into the street. He kills him accidentally and feels terrible about it. He finds out this Lord Burleton was supposed to get married in two days to an American heiress due to arrive in London the next day. Stephen takes it upon himself to meet her at the ship and inform her of her intended's early death. It's the least he can do, for he's under the impression it was a love match.
Meanwhile, we learn that the heiress, Charise Lancaster, has run off with some fortune hunter before the ship from America has even docked! Obviously, it wasn't a love match with Burleton! Her chaperone, Sheridan Bromleigh, is beside herself with worry, convinced she will be blamed for everything and will go to jail. She braces herself and goes to meet the lord that is waiting for her at the dock. She thinks she's meeting Lord Burleton, but it's really Stephen, who thinks he's meeting Charise. How confusing! But, to make matters even more confusing, within seconds of meeting, Sheridan is hit by a big cargo net full of crates and is knocked unconscious before she can inform Stephen who she really is and that Charise has run off!
Feeling even more guilty, he brings her back to his townhouse and sees to it that she is nursed back to health. It turns out she remembers nothing and has amnesia. Her doctor has informed Stephen that she cannot have any more shocks or bad news until she is out of danger. One thing leads to another and Sheridan (Sherry) thinks Stephen is her fiancé! He can't tell her the truth right away for fear of more damage to her recovery and the plot gets thicker and even more delicious! But there is still the sticky issue of how is it going to be resolved? She thinks they're already engaged? How can he undo the engagement without hurting her feelings? Basically... he can't, and he's an ass for trying. Grr.
I loved every minute of this story and ate it up like candy. Stephen's family is let in on the secret, and they all instantly believe Sherry and Stephen are meant for one another. Sherry falls for him immediately, but he resists and futiley tries to convince her that she should look around and marry someone else. He feels so guilty about lusting over her when he killed her fiancé! (A minor matter, in my opinion). Naturally, her feelings are hurt and she is angry at him, but it doesn't last for too long. She becomes the toast of London with her debut (thanks to Stephen's sister in-law, Whitney and her aristocratic friends). Before long, she and Stephen cannot resist one another and grow even closer, she has fallen in love with him, and he's getting close, if he'll only admit it to himself. He decides to overcome his guilt and in a particularly romantic moment, he asks her to be his wife and sweeps her out onto the dance floor at a very public ball - my favorite moment in the book. They are a stunning couple and have so much to look forward to - but... but... she still doesn't have her memory back and when it does return all hell breaks loose! There is the terrible, big misunderstanding, as in Whitney, and it creates all sorts of angst and misery. Stephen does a terrible thing (these Westmoreland brothers!) which makes the reader long for some kind of resolution and my sympathy goes out to Sherry! I won't spoil it, but it's a great story and everything does work out in the end and Sherry's dreams all come true - it's exciting, but nerve wracking - impossible to put down!
I loved Sherry, she was sweet and innocent, so vulnerable with her amnesia. I was annoyed with her when she does something really stupid once she gets her memory back, but I felt sorry for her and I don't blame her for what she did - she was in shock! I agonized for her and felt terrible for her, especially after the way she and Stephen had fallen in love with each other - it just wasn't fair! He is every bit a Westmoreland and if you loved his brother in Whitney, you'll love Stephen in Until You. Tall, dark and handsome, he has a vulnerability about him that wasn't as apparent in Clayton, yet he has that same Westmoreland intractability about him - willing to cut the woman he loves out of his life if he thinks she's wronged him. I hated him for it, but I loved him too! He wasn't as extreme as Clayton (thankfully), but he still put Sherry through the wringer, but it makes it that much better when they are finally reunited - oh, but what a way to get back to that point again! *sigh*
This is a must read for Whitney, My Love fans, you will not be sorry. It wasn't as devastatingly emotional as Whitney, but it was similar in ways and a very satisfying read. The glittering ballrooms and styles of post-Regency England were perfectly executed, I loved being back in this world. It was great to see Whitney, Clayton, Nicki and the Dowager Duchess again - especially since they were all rooting for Sherry and Stephen to be together! A great, great romance with a wonderful happily ever after ending! Not quite as good as the first, but a hairsbreadth away. It took nine years for this sequel to come out after Whitney, and kudos to Ms. McNaught for pulling it off - brava!