When Rena’s father dies she is alone in the world, forced out of the vicarage that has been her home, with nowhere to go and no money. She seeks help at the large wooden cross standing in the nearby grounds of The Grange.
And there in the earth she finds three golden coins, which she hands over to the new young Earl of Lansdale. They form a friendship, the sweetest one of her life.
But her new happiness is threatened by Mr. Wyngate, a wealthy man determined to force the Earl to marry his daughter. There is something sinister about Mr. Wyngate, also another man who looks mysteriously like him, and seems to come and go without warning.
In the end, one man lies dead and another’s heart is broken before Rena’s faith and courage triumph.
So, I had read some PR that Barbara Cartland was great for Heyer-ites. Not that I believe every piece of PR I read, but I am always game for a new author.
I found the “introduction to The Pink Collection” special ebook collection of two of Cartland’s novels, starting off with The Cross of Love.
I think maybe this was intended to be a clean, Christian romance. With the exception of one indecent proposal, it is as clean as a whistle…and there is a lot of Christian language sprinkled throughout to suggest at a minimum that weltsicht.
However, the depth of themes, much like the character, the romance, the plot, the descriptions makes me wonder, in fact, if this book is really about anything besides meeting a publishing deadline.
A quick scan of online reviews shows this book, along with other Cartland “Pinks”, are fan favorites and have supporters. Unfortunately, the lack of depth in The Cross of Love did not likewise convert me.
The hero and heroine are likable enough, or they would be if they had had a little more character development and weren’t so quick to pronounce their “I love you”s. And even that could have been bearable without the predictable plot climax and conclusion, which left a sour taste in my mouth.
That’s it? I wanted to shout, throwing the paperback across the room. Of course, I was reading it on my Nook so did nothing of the sort.
Maybe its a book intended for a YA audience. That, I think, might be an okay fit although I am not convinced savvy younger readers won’t find the same faults.
Romantic Times gave it 4 out of 4 stars, also recommending for younger readers and calling the book “sweet.”
Overall, I would not compare Cartland to Heyer nor Austen, which is my main takeaway. I have found other authors, like Candace Hern, who write traditional Regencies much more enjoyable which, while still providing a happy ending, offer believable characters and conflict.
(2 out of 5 hearts. Not my cup of tea.)
(A couple of off-colour intimations and mentions of violence. Other than that, clean and teen friendly.)