When we see “What ever happened to” questions here at AAR, Danelle Harmon is one of the names that often pops up. She wrote the popular de Montforte series in the late 90s, all of which received positive reviews here. I read and loved them all back in the day, and wrote a DIK review of The Beloved One fourteen years ago.
Well, as you may have seen on the interwebs, Danelle is back, with slightly re-worked and re-issued de Monteforte books. All of them have glorious new covers (no more BJ cover for The Beloved One, happily). Danelle had this to say about her sabbatical and return:
It’s been over ten years since my last book came out, and during this rather lengthy sabbatical, I’ve been busy raising our daughter and pursuing other passions, including my Arabian horses and as ever, dog showing. (Our household now includes four, yes four, German Shorthaired Pointers ranging in age from 10 months to 14 years! In fact, my beloved Roscoe, gone now and waiting for me at the Rainbow Bridge, appeared as “Freckles” in The Defiant One, and that is actually him featured on the new cover of The Defiant One!)
I’m so excited about the e-books release of my de Montforte Brothers series, set in Georgian England and all sporting breathtakingly beautiful new covers! And, I even have a new book in the works: So many people wrote to me over the years, asking for Nerissa’s and Perry’s story, and yes, that is what I’m working on. Just don’t expect to find Perry quite the same as you’ve always known him — he hasn’t escaped what happened to him in The Wicked One unscathed, and he’s already proving to be one of the darkest heroes I’ve ever written. You can imagine that Lucien doesn’t approve of him as a suitable candidate for his sister’s hand. And needless to say, I don’t think Perry is going to count the duke as his best friend any time soon, and for good reason. But to what lengths will he go to enact vengeance?
It is so good to be back! Happy reading, everyone, and thank you to you, Blythe, for mentioning me in your blog!
I’m not a frequent re-reader; at this point in my life, reading time is at a premium, and I tend to spend it on review books and my monthly book club book, using whatever spare time is left over at the end of the month for those can’t miss new releases. But I thought it would be worth my while to revisit The Beloved one and see how my thoughts might be different after fourteen years. Now, some people remember every detail of every book they read. Some of you might remember Linda Hurst, my Pandora’s Box co-columnist from back in the day. When we attended RWA together some years ago, she astounded me with her ability to remember details and plot points while she was talking to authors. In most cases, I just remember my general impression. I know whether I loved or hated a book, and if I’m lucky I might recall some of the reasons why. But on the rare occasions when I do re-read, it’s almost like I’m reading a whole new book. In this case, I remembered the hero, Charles de Montforte, and that he had fallen from perfection, lost his way, and redeemed himself. I’d forgotten virtually everything else (so I can’t comment on any minor changes that might have been made, because they would have been completely lost on me).
So what did I think? Well, I still enjoyed the book immensely, and I still very much liked Charles. I found his path to redemption different then, and I think it’s still different and relevant now. He’s a perfectionist who fails spectcularly, and must come to terms with his humanity and regain his confidence. That, for me, is what makes the book. However, I found Amy’s naivete a little over the top at times, and her evil half-sisters almost border on cartoonish. I couldn’t help wishing they’d been a little more subtle in their villainy, though to be fair, their machinations are a huge and necessary plot point.
One thing I had kind of forgotten was that Charles’ conniving older brother, Lucien, is almost a prototype for one of my all time favorite heroes: Mary Balogh’s Wulfric Bedwyn. Lucien is cold, studiously polite, and unapproachable. He manipulates his siblings and interferes behind the scenes in their lives, biding his time until he gets his own book at the end. Though Balogh certainly refines the character and makes him her own, Lucien was there first. Like his Bedwyn successor, he steals nearly every scene in which he appears. Though I have a soft spot for Charles, I can’t help hoping that I can find the time to re-read Lucien’s book too.
If you missed these books the first time around – or you are (gulp) much younger than I and were too young to think of reading them a decade and a half ago – I would encourage you to give all four a try. They are best read in order; The Beloved One is actually the second book in the series. If you read the equally strong The Wild One beforehand, you’ll find out what happens to Charles’ pregnant fiancee while he is recovering and meeting Amy in America. I’m also thrilled that an author who showed talent and promise back in the day is writing again. That’s the kind of good news that makes my job fun.
On a related note: Are you a re-reader? How often do you revisit old favorites? Do your older reads stand the test of time?