From the desk of Katie Patchell:
Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot’s romance in Jane Austen’s Persuasion is one of the most captivating in classic literature. Opinion varies as to what it is that makes their romance so satisfying, but something almost all fans of Persuasion can agree with is the complete beauty that is found when a hero and heroine, after long separation and opposition, discover that the time apart has done nothing to lessen the strength of their affection. Sarah M. Eden follows this timeless pattern in her latest Regency romance, For Elise, but unlike in Persuasion, the hero and heroine do not face a father’s disapproval or society’s disappointment—they face a murderer.
It is the spring of 1815, and Miles Linwood recently returned from the West Indies, cannot pass a day without being haunted by memories of his carefree childhood friend and neighbor, Elise. Four years previously a tragedy had shattered both of their lives, leaving them to cope as they always did: together. A few weeks later and with no explanation Elise left Miles’ estate, vanishing without a trace—until four years later when Miles catches a glimpse of familiar brown curls and Elise’s peculiar blue eyes in a small town. Miles is overjoyed to discover his best friend, but Elise is drastically altered from who she used to be, and is now hostile and untrusting, particularly towards Miles.
“Was I not your friend?” Miles pressed, his brows knit together.
She knew an honest answer would break his heart, so she didn’t reply. Her silence, however, seemed enough. (Page 94)
Elise is stunned to once again come face to face with Miles Linwood, the person she used to love more than anyone else in the world, but who, when she needed him most, turned his back on her. When he convinces her to return with him and his sister to his estate, Elise is touched by Miles’ kindness and fond memories of their close childhood but shocked that he cannot remember what he had said four years ago that caused her to flee.
“I’m sorry, Elise,” Miles whispered, dropping his hand and stepping back. “I am not even sure what I did to lose your faith so entirely, but I am sorry for it—more sorry than I can even say.”
Elise had to look away from his pained expression. His suffering pierced her usually impenetrable armor. It had always been that way. They’d shared everything and had understood each other better than any other person on earth. To see him hurting, knowing she had caused it, pricked at her.
“What can I do to regain your trust?” Miles asked.
Her trust? Her trust had died long ago.
“I don’t know.” Elise shrugged, fighting the loneliness that suddenly engulfed her.
A heavy silence hung between them. Elise could hear Mile’s long, tense breaths. She forced back the tears that threatened to fall.
“I wish you would give me a chance,” Miles muttered before turning on his heels and leaving her alone with her unsettling thoughts. (Pages 94-95)
Just when Miles and Elise attempt to move beyond the painful aftermath of their separation and regain their close friendship, the murderer returns—and this time, plans to finish what he started. Will Miles and Elise learn to trust each other again so that they can finally piece together what really happened that terrible night four years previously? And can they stop their unknown enemy before he silences them?
Elise crossed to where the candlelight glowed brighter. She slowly opened the missive. There was no date, no greeting, only a single scrawled sentence. Should your memory improve, so shall my aim. (Page 68)
As with all the novels by Sarah M. Eden that I’ve read, For Elise was a delight. The romance was sweet, the suspense was nail-biting, and every character was unique. Each chapter brought new discoveries about the hero and heroine’s shared past, which added to the richness of the story. The various mysteries and their resolutions were slow-building but worth the wait, and Eden adds many plot twists that kept me guessing until the last pages.
Sadly, I cannot mention all that was surprising, chilling, and touching in For Elise because in doing so, I would reveal many of the novel’s surprises. All I can add without giving away spoilers is that the situations—past and present—that Elise and Miles go through make this novel stand out within the genre, and the revelations and characters themselves will stay in readers’ minds long after finishing. For Elise is as beautiful, wistful, lingering, and ultimately uplifting as Beethoven’s piano composition of the same name, and well worth the read.
5 out of 5 Stars
For Elise, by Sarah M. Eden
Covenant Communications Inc. (2014)
Trade paperback & eBook (272) pages
Cover image courtesy of Covenant Communications © 2014; text Katie Patchell © 2015, Austenprose.com
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