From the desk of Katie Jackson:
“There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart,” as Jane Austen once wrote. But when tender hearts are hidden behind protective shields, will their charm ever be revealed? Bestselling author Sarah M. Eden explores the promises and pitfalls of tender hearts in the highly anticipated finale of her acclaimed Jonquil Brothers and Lancaster Family series, Charming Artemis.
Miss Artemis Lancaster had been utterly neglected by her widowed father through most of her impoverished childhood. “Oh, how she’d needed someone to see her, to understand the tears that sat on her heart all the time.” (97) When her eldest sister married a duke, Artemis was catapulted into a world of plenty, supported by siblings who cared for her. But nothing and nobody could heal the wounds of her overwhelming fear of abandonment. She had built an impenetrable fortress around her heart and disguised her pain with a detached and disdainful veneer, yet she was ever-hopeful of finding the unconditional love she sought.
Charlie Jonquil was the son of an earl and the youngest of seven brothers. “The Jonquil family had not merely an heir and a spare, as the saying went, but an heir and six spares. He wasn’t often needed or helpful.” (331) Obligated to select a career, he had focused his efforts at Cambridge on his love of mathematics, determined to become a lecturer there. “Strange, perhaps, but Charlie wasn’t embarrassed by his passion for numbers. He’d come to appreciate that he had a knack for something. He’d found purpose and focus in knowing, at last, what he was meant to do with his life.” (184)
After an unpleasant meeting several years before that left them adversaries, Artemis and Charlie are disgruntled to find themselves thrown into each other’s company once again at the wedding celebration of mutual friends. “Indeed, there was not a member of Charlie Jonquil’s family whose company Artemis didn’t find delightful. Except for Charlie. And from what she’d heard, she was one of the only people in the entire world he didn’t like.” (292) For the benefit of their friends, they agree to a temporary ceasefire.
Then disaster strikes. They are caught in the appearance of a scandalous situation, and the only reasonable solution to the misunderstanding is a forced marriage. “If he and Artemis did not move forward with this plan, she would be ruined, and he would be labeled a rake for the rest of his life. They would both forever be tainted by the scandal, and their families would suffer for it.” (570)
They are each burdened with bitterness over the destruction of their dreamed-for futures. For Artemis, “once more, she would be living with a man who despised her in a home where she would never be wanted.” (503) And Charlie “was going to be as unneeded and unnecessary in his own marriage as he had been in his family growing up.” (704) The future they face together looks bleak, at best. Will the love and support of the Jonquil and Lancaster families be enough to liberate them from a marriage of inconvenience?
Everything that Edenites adore about the Jonquil brothers and Lancaster family is in this book: adorable children, witty banter, the dangerous duke and the entertaining earl, heartrending moments, and an abundance of love in all forms. I laughed, cried, smiled, and sighed. The story was so immersive that I didn’t want to put it down, and I valiantly attempted to pace myself so that I could savor it because I didn’t want it to end. Inevitably, I lost track of time every time I traveled into their world, and much sooner than I wished, it was over. It warmed my heart, and my Kindle is full of highlighted passages that made me smile. I’ve become inordinately fond of these characters over the years, and I’m sad to leave them behind. Yet I’m also hopeful about all of the wonderful tales still to come from the charmed pen of Sarah M. Eden in the form of the two related series, The Gents and The Huntresses.
Charming Artemis is an ending that feels like a promising beginning thanks to masterful storytelling that beckons readers to become honorary members of these beloved families who will always live on in our hearts.
“Think on me fondly, with smiles and laughter. Dry your tears. Hold fast to hope. Forget me not.” (2692)
5 out of 5 Stars
- Charming Artemis, by Sarah M. Eden
- Covenant Communications, Inc. (October 4, 2021)
- Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook (340) pages
- ISBN: 978-1524418069
Cover image courtesy of Covenant Communications © 2021; text Katie Jackson, Austenprose.com