In the distant past before romances were a part of my reading diet, I loved historical fiction. I devoured Michener and Jakes, the sagas and the splendours of a meaty book were all that was required to keep me happy. The more involved, the better. At this point in my reading life, I also made another discovery. The fabulous Swann family epics written by R.F. Delderfield remain on my bookshelf, reminding me that historical fiction is one of my true loves.
Imagine my delight when I opened No Angel, and discovered not only a love story, but the beginnings of another family saga! Author Penny Vincenzi has taken a turn or two in the library and written a story reminiscent of these beloved books. From Edwardian England, through World War I and into the Roaring Twenties, she follows the fortunes of the Lytton family and its publishing empire.
Celia, daughter of the Duke of Beckenham, falls in love with Oliver Lytton with all of the fervour of 18-year-old emotions. After her family tells her that marriage to the publishing scion is unacceptable, she takes matters into her own hands. No Angel follows the Lyttons through the early years of their marriage, and also the lives of the other Lytton siblings, Jack, Margaret and Robert.
As war looms on the horizon, Celia is no longer content to sit at home. She convinces Oliver that she can contribute to the family business. Oliver humors her, and is surprised to discover that there is more to his society bride than a pretty face. Soon she is making business decisions that will carry the firm safely through the war, while Oliver fights with the army.
No Angel is not a typical romance, although there is plenty of love on the pages. It is more. I recommend it to readers who will enjoy following the branches of a family through the decades, with all of the triumphs and loss that is a part of living.