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The Spare (Leisure Historical Romance) by…

The Spare (Leisure Historical Romance)

by Carolyn Jewel

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775156,384 (3.59)3



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I have Goodreads Recommendations to thank for introducing me to Ms Jewel's work, and myself to thank for starting with what I believe to be her debut novel.

Outstanding. Original. Refreshing. Intriguing. Addictive. Articulate. Joyful.

Praise be for a historical romance set in the depths of Cumbria and not in the tedious London hothouse of degenerate rakes and simpering debutantes. Praise be for a hero who is a real hero, a decorated veteran of countless naval battles. Hallelujah for a heroine whose only affectation is a partiality for the scent of verbena.

Seriously wounded in his latest naval encounter, Sebastian returns to his family seat of Pennhyll, partly to recuperate under the care of former naval surgeon and colleague Ned Fansher, and partly to assume the title of Lord of Tiern-Cope vacated by the unsolved murder of his elder brother Alexander.

A party of relatives and friends descends on the family home to celebrate the year end. To make up the numbers, Olivia Willow, a spinster living in the neighboring village of Far Caister, is invited to the party—she being the 'spare' of the title.

Sebastian, a humourless, commanding figure of few words, most of them acerbic, is fascinated by Olivia's extraordinary red hair and her resilient personality. More than that, he is obsessed by the secret locked in her memory. She was a witness to, and victim of, the murderous attack on his brother and sister-in-law. However, the entire episode is a blank in her mind. Sebastian, half suspecting that Olivia had something to do with the murder, is determined to unlock the suppressed memories.

Running though the entire tale is the shade of a former Lord of Tier-Cope—the 'Black Earl'. Both Sebastian and Olivia begin to experience visions of this Black Earl, and identical dreams or hallucinations of sexual encounters. This paranormal element in the narrative was handled with superb skill, as was the climactic scene of the Black Earl's final intrusion.

I'm a sucker for amnesia stories, and also for tales featuring inexplicable visions. To have both in one story was like receiving a double scoop of chocolate ice-cream with chocolate sauce on top.

This book goes straight onto my 'to read again' shelf. ( )
  skirret | Jan 2, 2015 |
I really enjoyed this regency with a murder mystery and ghost story added in to make it a quick and compelling read.

http://ktleyed.blogspot.com/2011/04/spare-by-carolyn-jewel.html ( )
  ktleyed | Apr 2, 2011 |
I liked this book, but some of it was confusing and I didn't understand why it was included in the story.

Sebastian was an interesting but frustrating character. I didn't understand why he was wounded in the story. It added nothing to the storyline except to make him wait to investigate until he was better, which (shockingly) aligns precisely with Olivia's visit. He was a rather cold, arrogant fellow. It took me a while to warm up to him. I also thought his turn around from standoffish to thinking nauseatingly sweet thoughts about Olivia was very sudden.

I didn't understand why Olivia felt that she had to play the nitwit for everyone. It seemed odd and I didn't see the point of it. I liked that she was willing to help Sebastian find out what happened and insisted on him trying to make her remember. I didn't understand why Sebastian didn't tell Olivia what he discovered about her missing days right away. I thought that was very wrong of him. Even if he didn't want her to be angry and embarrassed at him because he was the messenger he still should have sucked it up and told her.

Despite the problems I had with this book I still enjoyed it. I read it quickly and was entertained by it. I think that Carolyn Jewel has a skill with words and atmosphere. She succeeded very well in creating a very gothic setting. I did feel that large chunks of the story were skipped though. I would move to a new chapter and it felt like I missed something. I had to reread the end of the chapter and make sure I hadn't before I came to the conclusion that Jewel just has an abrupt way of transitioning at times.

Be aware that there is a paranormal aspect with a ghost. I wasn't expecting it and didn't really enjoy it, but others might. ( )
  Catherine331 | Dec 28, 2009 |
I enjoy more description and setting than the novel offered. Enjoyed the plot, though. ( )
  JoAnnSmithAinsworth | May 8, 2009 |
The Spare starts out as a fairly typical regency romance. A wounded naval officer sent home from the war, the heir to a title and great estate with the passing of his older brothers. A country house party during which he is to select his bride to be. The on-the-self spinster who catches his eye despite the prettier, younger girls in attendance. But The Spare soon leaves this familiar territory in the dust to draw the reader into a sumptuously, sometimes chillingly, gothic realm of visions, dreams, and, of course, unleashed passions, at the heart of which is a murder mystery to be solved. The plot is excellently constructed and the mystery beautifully explored. While Sebastian Alexander, now Lord Tiern-Cope, was away at sea, his brother and his brother's wife were murdered at their home. Olivia Willow was also there, and she was also attacked, but survived. Unfortunately, she doesn't remember anything about the event. Sebastian is an intriguing mix of stalwart war hero, stoic, arrogant lord, sexy seducer, and determined sleuth, for he's certain that the key to the murder mystery lies in Olivia's lost memories. He treats her (rather roughly) as a suspect at first, but his feelings for her, and his conception of the past alter and develop throughout the book as his inquiries unearth disturbing truths about his own family history and the way it has intersected with Olivia's.

As the book gradually unraveled the issues at its heart, I really liked the direction it took and how. Sebastian's estate, Pennhyll Castle, is reputed to be haunted, and as the reader gets drawn further and further into the mystery and the romance, things get very creepy and confusing - playing with the reader and the characters, tantalizing and inciting the imagination. The line between dreams and reality blurs fantastically. The prose is rich, evocative, and compelling. My only complaint would be that, though the characters are very well drawn, Olivia fades into the background after a while, and it becomes more and more about the hero, more from his perspective. But since he's such a fascinating character, I don't mind in the least. The Spare is a very different, original, and captivating romance. ( )
  theshadowknows | Apr 26, 2009 |
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Captain Sebastian Alexander, late of His Majesty's Royal Navy, is The Spare who inherits an earldom and Pennhyll Castle after the death of his older brother. Red-haired Olivia Willow is invited to Pennhyll to even out the numbers. She's missing a day from her life. Is it possible that she had something to do with the murder of Sebastian's brother? Olivia isn't what he assumes and as the truth about what happened to his brother slowly comes to light, Sebastian's life is changed forever.… (more)

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