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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Review: To Love and To Cherish by Patricia Gaffney

In To Love and To Cherish, Patricia Gaffney takes the reader to a lovely fictional town in the English Countryside called Wyckerley, where we see Vicar Christian “Christy” Morell and Anne Verlaine, Lady D’Aubrey, realize their true destinies not only as individuals, but also as a couple. These two are a man and a woman who are unsuited, dissimilar, and, for more than one reason, inappropriate for each other. It is not only their stations in life that separate them. He is kind; she is cynical. His faith is strong; she is an atheist. He is a local boy; she was raised on the continent. He is single; she is married…to his childhood best friend.

Christy and Anne must endure spiritual, physical, and emotional crisis. Christy is a vicar who is human – he doubts, he feels, he is tempted, he loves. Anne is a woman with a tough veneer. Her childhood, her father, her husband have all contributed to that. She has no dreams. She exists. They each weather their personal and joint storms, not only enduring and surviving, but finishing as stronger and better people. Christy sees who Anne can be and Anne sees the good that Christy truly does.

But Christy and Anne are not the only interesting people in Wyckerley. We also get to meet a host unassuming and amusing townspeople and parishioners. As in any town, there are a number of triumphs and tragedies intertwined in the duties of a vicar and in the responsibilities of the Lady of the manor. It is in large part these shared relationships and events that bring our vicar to the confirmation of his faith, and our Lady to the discovery of hers as well as to the mutual discovery that Wyckerley is home to both of them. Their story is charming, tender, passionate and sometimes painful. But In the bittersweet joy of seeing these two unlikely characters come together in a deep and abiding love, in the end, Wyckerley feels like home to us, too.

I loved this book. It was such a refreshing break from “the ton” and all its frivolities. No evil villains, no conniving relatives, no spies and intrigues, no Almack’s. Don’t get me wrong, there are many historical romance novels that I like very much that have all those plot elements. But this story drew me in with its pastoral simplicity and charm.

I love that the vicar, the vicar, mind you, who was handsome and flawed and human and intelligent and so, so kind who gets the girl. I loved seeing the unbelieving, sometimes scoffing, heroine gradually opening herself up and making a place for herself among the town’s population.

But mostly it was the deep, true, passionate, abiding love between Christy and Anne that awed me. What a fictional testimony to the life-changing power of love. They are the reason I read historical romance. Fiction, indeed, but also the glimmer of hope for what could be. Or what should be.

Patricia Gaffney herself says in her author’s note that she planned for To Love and To Cherish to be a singular novel. However, even she admits she just couldn’t leave the town of Wyckerley and its inhabitants. So, happily, there are two more books in the series, To Have and To Hold and Forever and Ever. I can’t wait to read them!

Purchase: | Amazon | B&N |