When Julia Quinn created her recent duet of novels, I was ready for a new twist on historical romance. The Lost Duke of Wyndham set the stage, and now the finale is at hand.
Thomas Cavendish grew up learning how to be the Duke of Wyndham. Even though he was not his grandmother’s favorite relative, they got along well enough, thanks to her companion Grace. He is grateful to her and treasures their friendship.
His entire world is turned upside down with the arrival of Jack Audley. It seems that he may not be the Duke at all. As he struggles to accept this reality and learn the truth, he realizes that this catastrophe affects other people too, especially his fiancée Amelia. Betrothed in childhood, he has never been in a hurry to marry and now it may be too late.
Amelia Willoughby doesn’t really want to be a duchess, and she is not sure she wants to marry Thomas, either. The thought of being a duchess terrifies her, and Thomas is an unknown entity. Oh, they are polite enough together, but he has never once taken an interest in learning about her – her likes, dislikes, talents, anything. It is as if he looks no further than her face and does not care about the person inside.
When I began reading Mr. Cavendish I Presume, I had an idea in my head about how the book would flow. I expected it to pick up as the Lost Duke ended, going onward through time until Thomas and Amelia would be reunited. I was way off-base.
Instead, Ms. Quinn has done a very brave thing. She has taken an opposing view of the same storyline and presented it again. The difference is in the perspective of the people involved and their emotions. It is a radical departure from “traditional” romance novels, and one that took time to appreciate. I will admit that my initial response was one of disappointment, until I had a chance to consider the subtle differences and how they not only enriched the re-telling, but added to the original book as well. Now that I have both books in hand, I plan to read them again, in sequence, so that I can get the full effect.