Thursday, August 3, 2017

Review: Lara Blunte’s THE ABYSS – Love & Danger in 19th Century Brazil

Set in the early 19th century, beginning in 1803 in the regency of Prince John of Portugal, this is the story of Clara Moreira Tavares whose domineering mother tells her she must marry title and money. But Clara wants only Gabriel Almada de Castro, the younger son of the Marquis de Vargas. When the marquis disinherits Gabriel for his choice of Clara, at the urging of her parents, she refuses his proposal and he disappears.

Four years later Napoleon is about to invade Portugal and the regent decides to flee with his court to Brazil. Clara and her family go with him, to find a new life. Meanwhile, Gabriel has been busy amassing wealth in that same country and, betrayed by his partners, is suspicious of everyone.

In Rio, Clara again meets Gabriel and, this time when he proposes, she accepts. Married, they move to the interior where he has vast lands. When a letter arrives describing Clara as having been the lover of a former suitor,
Gabriel believes the lie even when the evidence suggests otherwise (among other things, she was a virgin on their wedding night).

Notwithstanding his past, Gabriel’s behavior seemed a bit inconsistent with his “deep love” for Clara. She acts the saint and continues to be the perfect lady, reigning over Gabriel’s estate and winning his people’s affection, in one case, too much affection, which endangers them all. Much happens in their on and off again love, the dialog well written.

As with the first book I read by this author, it took me some time to get used to her style of writing. She uses mostly narrative to “tell” the story with the heroine as the primary storyteller. But the writing is good and there are some very exciting scenes as she vividly portrays life in the backcountry of Brazil. (The setting is certainly exotic.) For those looking for the unusual in romance, I recommend it!

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