Book Review: From This Moment by Elizabeth Camden
by Sandra Ardoin
One Hardheaded Egotist + One Hardheaded Egotist = Happily Ever After?
That’s pretty much the formula for romance in Elizabeth Camden’s new novel From This Moment. Before you open this one, I would advise you to download and read the free novella Summer of Dreams. While the novel can be read without the novella, it will give more depth to some of the backstory. The novel highlights two romances—one a first meet and the other a reunion story. The latter begins in the novella, so I won’t mention anything about that story here.
Romulus White’s flamboyant fashion, attention to women, and charming ways hide a man whose past hurts and insecurities convince him he’ll never amount to much or be a good husband. He’s part owner in a scientific magazine based in Boston and considers it his only real accomplishment in life. Though it’s never named, it’s clear he has suffered from what we would now call ADD or ADHD.
Stella West is a brilliant lithographic artist sought after for years by Romulus to illustrate articles in his magazine. While she lived in London, they carried on an entertaining correspondence, each stubborn in their decisions…until Stella receives heartbreaking news and she leaves London for Boston to investigate the mysterious death of her beloved sister.
How had Romulus White learned she was in Boston? This wasn’t good. She’d never even met the man, but he’d been pursuing her for years, and he was relentless. […]
There had been a time when she’d been amused by his impassioned letters to her, so full of enthusiasm it had been hard to turn him down. She admired people who had a passion for their work, and his letters sparkled with intelligence and the sheer love of sharing the wonders of science and technology with the wider world. […]
Their correspondence brimmed with delightful barbs and a professional rivalry that sizzled despite the three thousand miles separating them. […] She dared not tempt fate by leaving her idyllic life in England to work for a man whose unbridled passion rivaled her own. They would either get along smashingly well or be tempted to kill each other on sight. […]
Her heart sank a little deeper as she folded his note and returned it to the envelope. Romulus White and his dazzling offers belonged to her past, and there was no room for him in her new, darker world.
The story takes place in 1897, a time when women were in the throes of breaking out of their homemaker ensembles and demanding roles and attitudes not normally associated with “the weaker sex.” Stella is one of those women—career-minded, outspoken, and filled to the brim with self-confidence.
While he’s drawn to her, Romulus is determined she won’t “disrupt his hard-won equilibrium.” Besides any woman who works for him is off limits. But she persists in dragging him into her search for the truth behind her sister’s death.
As is the case with most of Ms. Camden’s books, I was drawn to the hero. She has a way of making the bad boy appealing, yet not so appealing I’d want my daughter to marry one like him. Stella could be a little off-putting at times. She’s driven and tunnel-visioned by her goal. She’s also intensely loyal to her family and willing to give back when the need arises. The mystery is an intriguing backdrop to the story of two people who struggle to lay aside their obsessions, arrogance, and fears to find what truly matters in life.
My one complaint involved a repetition of information. It seemed I read the same points driven home over and over. As a writer, I know it’s not hard to forget what you’ve already mentioned, especially when working under the pressure of a deadline, but I wonder why it wasn’t picked up in editing.
Even with that, if you enjoy Ms. Camden’s novels, you’ll certainly want to add From This Moment to your stack of summer reads!
I read Elizabeth Camden’s novels for the pleasure of being introduced to unusual settings and careers, as well as heroes who are strong on the outside, yet vulnerable on the inside.