Their marriage lasted only slightly longer than the honeymoon – to no one’s surprise, not even Bryony Asquith’s. A man as talented, handsome, and sought after by society as Leo Marsden couldn’t possibly want to spend his entire life with a woman who rebelled against propriety by becoming a doctor. Why, then, three years after their annulment and half a world away, does he track her down at her clinic in the remotest corner of India?
Leo has no reason to think Bryony could ever forgive him for the way he treated her, but he won’t rest until he’s delivered an urgent message from her sister – and fulfilled his duty by escorting her safely back to England. But as they risk their lives for each other on the journey home, will the biggest danger be the treacherous war around them – or their rekindling passion?
I picked this book because I was intrigued by the blurb I’ve read in Goodreads about it and it’s authored by Sherry Thomas, who is creating quite a stir in the world of historical romance novel with her debut novel, Private Arrangement (PA).
I thought this book has the same concept as her first novel but I was wrong. This is so much better than PA. I felt connected with the characters. It was a beautiful tale about two lovers who fell apart and found each other again. Along their way to rekindling their past, they opened up to each other only to discover that they knew little about each other and secrets came out spilling from Pandora’s box. It was really heartbreaking and I feared that it would end up breaking my heart. Good thing, Thomas know better.
Both of the characters are achievers. They’re both the best in their profession. They have different personalities. Leo is a pleaser. He wants attention – especially from Briony. Briony, on the other hand, is a cold and frigid woman who was lost in her own world. She shuts everyone else from her world and doesn’t allow anybody in and when she thought she has found a person who can get her out of her shell, she discovers that he has betrayed her. I guess one of the reasons their relationship got out of proportion is because of Briony’s character. She is so brittle and a bad situation can shatter her to pieces which actually happened leading to the annulment of their marriage.
Part of the reason that added magic to the book is the quirkiness of the characters. Sometimes I don’t think they fit together but then that’s how things work. Opposites attract. There are times when I hated Brioy’s character. She could have just called off the wedding. But then, who am I to blame her? She’s just human and I guess she really tried to forgive him but it’s rather difficult especially when you saw him in the act screwing somebody else. I really came to love Leo Marsden here and thought ‘What the hell? Who will leave a man like him?’ but I learned about what he’d done. I guess that was wrong. You’re marrying the girl you’re in love with since you were a baby then screw someone else a week before your wedding? Briony cold have just asked him before entering in a marriage that had hurt them both.
I like the fact that they were not wearing anything fancy like those traditional costumes etc. I love the fact that the characters went to university and were both independent.
There are two heartbreaking parts here where I cried. The first one is when Leo says his parting words to Briony in their room during the war, knowing that he might not survive. The second one was when Briony was talking to his father until he passed away.
I loved the last paragraph in Leo’s brief biography that Princeton University always requested to be included in the programs for lectures that he was invited to give there every few years. It goes like this: During terms, Professor Marsden lives in Cambridge with his wife, chess player extraordinaire and distinguished physician and surgeon Briony Asquith Marsden. his favorite time of day is half past six in the evening, when he meets Mrs. Marsden’s train at the station, as the latter returns from her day in London. On Sunday afternoons, rain or shine, Professor and Mrs. Marsden take a walk along the Backs, and treasure growing old together.
“I said a good gambler approached the table with a plan and an inferior gambler with a desperate prayer and much blind hope.”
“What’s making love but a penis penetrating a vagina, discharging semen in the process?”
“Are you sure you are the same person who refused to let me removed my nightshirt when we were married?”
“If God wanted men to go to be unclothed, he would not have made nighshirts.”
“I despaired for a while during the rail journey – how did one deal with such ingrained cowardice? Then I realized that there’s no such thing as courage in the absence of cowardice. Courage is also a choice: It’s what happens when one refuses to give in to fear.”
“Your trust gives me courage.”
“And your courage gives me faith.”