Revisiting an Old DIK: Danelle Harmon’s The Beloved One

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?

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13 Responses to “Revisiting an Old DIK: Danelle Harmon’s The Beloved One”

  1. Lois M. says:

    Heck yeah, I’m a rereader. LOL Once upon a time when I started reading romances and had a little bit of a TBR pile (and I would actually think that was a large pile – boy, if I knew what I know now! LOL), I would be in the mood to reread a favorite, but kept saying no, no, I have to get to these first. At some point, I just said forget this – no book is going anywhere, so it doesn’t matter if the next one I read is a reread or not. I have certain ones that are guarantees that I read at least once a year, and sometimes I have to keep myself from reading them too much… but I also will bring others out if I found myself in a slump that I just hadn’t liked the last few books that I read… or, I just simply want to. But I definitely do not keep the books I know or I’m fairly certain I won’t reread again.

    Lois

  2. bungluna says:

    Chronic re-reader here. I have favorites that I revisit periodically, but the main reason I re-read so much is that when I run accross a wallbanger I just have to fall back on a proven good book to cleanse my palate. Another reason to re-read is that a snippet of a book will pass through my memory, like a song, and I’ll go back to revisit, often finding myself reading the whole darned thing. I have found, though, that after 30some years of reading, some books hold up much better than others.

  3. MEK says:

    I often reread. I relax the second time around reading a book, and can wallow in the writing and the characters, knowing ahead of time all will be well in the end. Then there are those old favorites I must periodically revisit….

  4. Danielle says:

    Back when I had to stretch every penny I was a more frequent rereader than now, but I still periodically return to my keepers and comfort reads. As Bungluna writes, some books hold up better than others. On rereading Prince Of Foxes recently I realised my response varies based on the expectations I bring to the reread, not merely because I have matured and read with a different set of life experiences than I did when I was younger. It also depends on what I got out of the book on my first reading, on what I responded most strongly to back then. If the primary pleasure was puzzling out a mystery, for example, then, provided I have forgotten most of the twists and turns, the fun can be easily duplicated. If the book made me see the world differently or broadened my horizons I may still admire it as a solid piece of writing but likely the “wow”-factor will by now be diluted or missing. Etc.

  5. Leigh says:

    I used to be a re-reader but the internet has changed that. Every once in a while I will get the urge to revisit a certain book but it doesn’t happen that often.

  6. LeeF says:

    I re-read, then turn around and listen to some books on audio! :-)

  7. Renee says:

    I agree, Lee. I, too, am a re-reader and since I have discovered audiobooks look forward to revisiting my favorite books in that form as well.

  8. Tinabelle says:

    Dyed-in-the-wool rereader here! I frequently reread my favorites, some of which date back to my early days of reading romance in the “bodice ripper” era. Have been trying to buy my DIK’s in electronic format if/when they are released. Sometimes I just want a comfort read where I already know what happens and can relax during my reading. I read quickly and don’t often remember every single detail anyway.

    Thanks for recommending the de Montforte Brothers series. Missed them the first time around but they sound right up my alley. Just loaded all four onto my Kindle and am looking forward to reading them. I love that AAR sometimes reviews/discusses older books.

  9. Victoria S says:

    I had never heard of Danelle Harmon until yesterday. As soon as I read that Lucien is “…almost a prototype for Wulfric Bedwyn”, I too ran to my Kindle to get them downloaded.

    In the words of Lois M, “heck yeah, I’m a re-reader.” As a matter of fact I was re-reading Anne Mallory’s “One Night is Never Enough” when I read your blog on Ms. Harmon. I too, regularly re-read old favorites; between new releases, as a comfort read, because something will bring a particular book or series to mind. In other words, any old excuse will do for me to re-read a book :-) I have long since purged any book from my shelves or Kindle that I will not re-read. It’s GOT to be a book I’ll re-read for me to even keep it anymore, as shelf space is precious.

    I am so grateful to all you at AAR for the reviews you do. I have found so many “new-to-me” authors here, that I know I would have never been exposed to otherwise. I do use other blogs, but I find that the gold standard for me is this one. I don’t have to agree with all your reviews but I can always count on them being honest appraisals of the material, and that’s all any of us can ask for. Thanks again for pointing the way to Ms. Harmon’s books.

  10. xina says:

    I was never a rereader until about a year and a half ago. I reread some old favorites, and just kept going! I have many of my old favorites downloaded and have had so much fun rereading Garwood, Stephanie Laurens, Marcia Canham, Lisa Kleypas…just to name a few. And I loved this book, The Beloved One. I see a glom in my near future.

  11. NBLibGirl says:

    I’m a re-reader of romances. I’d rather re-read something that I perceive to be well done than slog through something poor just to have something to read. Most of the romances I read come from the library and I purchase pretty selectively: things that I think are worth re-reading or is something I’d like to pass along to someone else.

  12. Ejaygirl says:

    I had never heard of Danelle Harmon until recently when she was promoting the de Montforte series. The premise of her story (first book) intrigued me and she was discounting the book so I decided to buy and read it right away. If you haven’t read this series, run to the bookstore and get them now! I LOVED the first two books and will finish the last two shortly. I’m now interested in collecting her other work and she will be an auto buy author for any new material.

    I don’t re-read much but I have with certain books, namely the J. D. Robb series. Too many new books to read on my shelf.

  13. Patricia patterson says:

    I reread frequently. Just looking at the comments inspired me to go to the keeper closet (one shelf is not enough) and search out MacKenzie’s Mountain. So much of this book speaks to my heart.

    Loved The Beloved One. Just finished it yesterday but could not finish The Wicked One. She had no redeeming value that I could find so why bother.

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