Laura Kinsale – "The Hidden Heart"

14 Dec

GENRE: Romance / Historical
PUBLISHED: Avon Books, 1986

The back blurb:
“Courageous and resourceful Lady Tess Collier is at home in the world’s wildest places. But when her explorer father, the Earl of Morrow, dies, she reluctantly agrees to honor his final wish: to return to England with Gryphon Meridon as her guide and protector, and to seek a good marriage there.
A dashing and mysterious sea captain, Gryf has been charged with guarding Tess from unworthy and unscrupulous suitors. But resisting his own heart’s fevered yearning for the brave and beautiful lady is his greatest challenge. For a dark secret he can share with no one prevents the bold adventurer from freely giving his love. But in a perilous , unsure world, perhaps only love can truly save them both.”

The Hidden Heart is Laura Kinsale’s first published book. I always wanted to read it, but what made me finally order it were these comments by Beth in her blog about it. And since the comments are pretty spot-on, this will be short.

The Hidden Heart is a rather action-oriented novel in the sense that the story takes place all over the world – South America, England, Tahiti, and even on a ship. It’s also a novel that spans a long period of time from beginning to end, and the hero and the heroine are not always together during that time – which IMO worked for the story and made it far more believable (and heart wrenching).

For me, it was an interesting novel to read. The Hidden Heart has many standard elements of a romance novel, and there are some parts which I found nearly “too melodramatic or clichéed”, but even with them, this book is better than a lot of the other romance books out there. I had fun for well over the first half of the book before I started to really notice these parts – and that’s because of the way Laura Kinsale writes. She takes a standard romance element – e.g. the heroine thinks herself unattractive – and manages to make it interesting, believable, and “new”. So sometimes The Hidden Heart reads like it’s written with the help of a check list (“Important Elements for Writing Romance Novels”), but these elements are transformed into something interesting most of the times. Plus, there are elements/scenes that are just plain good – e.g. I really liked Kinsale’s description of the heroine’s growing awareness that she’s physically attracted to the hero.

I don’t think Laura Kinsale’s The Hidden Heart is a perfect novel, but in some parts it’s a damned good one. It’s a novel that shows a lot of romance elements at work. It’s a novel that shows Kinsale’s talent in the way she manages to transform these elements into something believable and interesting. And for that alone, I’m really glad I read The Hidden Heart.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Yes.

Grade: 4 / 5


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