Title: Hidden Flame
Author: Elizabeth Bailey
Page Length: 237
Publication Date: June 3, 2020
Publisher: Sapere Books
Synopsis: Could a chance meeting lead to happily ever after…?
A cold and stormy March night forces two strangers to take shelter in the same inn. Benedict Beckenham is immediately captivated by Theda – a beguiling young woman who appears to be in distressed circumstances.
When Theda’s new position as a companion to the wealthy but ailing Lady Merchiston throws her and Benedict together again, the attraction between them in undeniable. But Theda has been burned in love before and is wary of opening her heart. And Benedict is hiding secrets of his own.
Will Theda reveal the truth about her past? Is Benedict really who he seems?
And can the hidden flame of love triumph?
HIDDEN FLAME is an authentic Georgian historical romance with a lively heroine at its heart.
Hidden Flame is a lovely historical romance with dynamic characters and strong messages. I enjoyed the insta-attraction romance between Theda and Benedict, and the forbidden aspect of their love. Quirky and dynamic characters, a viciously greedy antagonist, and an interesting plot make this an entertaining read.
Both Theda and Benedict seem reluctant to give in to their feelings. From the start, social norms and expectations keep them from being together. However, both characters also have inner conflicts that they must face before they can face society together. Theda fears for her future and feels unworthy because of her past. Benedict also has secrets from his past that prevents him from fully embracing his present. However, their growing feelings for each other prove bigger than the secrets keeping them apart.
Benedict is the typical alpha male. A bit arrogant and pushy, he often takes command of the situation, and Theda usually appreciates his take-charge personality. However, she is no pushover and doesn’t always bend to his will.
Theda is a likable and tolerant protagonist. Faced with many difficult situations, Theda always makes the best of her circumstances. She has a way of comforting others and putting them at ease. Her constant consideration for others as well as her desire to do what’s right make her an admirable character as well.
I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Theda and Lady Merchiston, her employer. Lady Merchiston is nearing the end of her life, and her situation is ugly. A miserable and ungrateful daughter barely cares for her, and the two employees in the house can barely keep up with the daily household duties. When Theda arrives, Lady Merchiston is unbearable, unkempt, and unhappy. Theda, with her no-nonsense attitude and quick wit, brings light back into Lady Merchiston’s life, literally and figuratively. It would be very easy for Theda to remain formal and keep her boss at a distance, but Theda sees through Lady Merchiston’s ornery attitude and treats her with compassion and understanding. She offers her comfort throughout her last weeks of life. I think this says a lot about Theda, and Lady Merchiston shows how much she appreciates Theda, much to Lady M’s daughter’s ire.
Interestingly, the most honorable person in the novel is the one who suffers the most under the staunch, elitist dictates of society while some of the more unsavory characters flourish under the same rules. It definitely says something about the gender inequities of the time as well as the skewed perceptions of ethical standards.
In addition to the memorable characters, messages of fighting for love, holding onto hope in the darkest of times, accepting help from others, and finding friends in unlikely places will endear the reader. Thanks so much to Netgalley and Sapere Books for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
- The romance, of course! 🙂 Theda and Benedict are a great match, and their feelings for each other are lovely.
- Theda. She is kind, smart, and compassionate. Her dynamic personality and way with people is one of the highlights of the novel.
Readers who enjoy historical romance will love this book. Fans of Samantha Holt, Mary Bilough, and Stephanie Laurens might want to give this one a look! 🙂