As a long-time historical romance reader, I feel that ‘The Delicate Matter of Lady Blayne’ is absolutely a genre standout. This book addresses so many very serious issues while still managing to be an erotic romance that makes you hope for a wonderful happy ending between the main characters, Catriona (Sunny) and James.
The story begins with James arriving to determine the care for his late cousin’s widow, Lady Catriona Blayne. Of course, it turns out that we quickly discover that James once asked Catriona to marry him and was refused. Despite years of trying, James has never been able to fully get over ‘Sunny,’ as everyone calls her. Unfortunately, upon arrival, he is beset by an entirely different challenge. Something is horribly wrong with Sunny, and he can’t figure out what is going on. She’s undergoing some kind of medical treatment, yet she’s terrified, and everyone is being secretive about all of it. His protective instincts kick up and he is determined to get to the bottom of what is truly going on, and why his Sunny girl isn’t smiling anymore.
The depth of the story is far more than I can reveal without giving too much away. But this goes into medical issues of the time, female diagnoses, medical abuse (socially acceptable at the time and otherwise), drug addiction, sexual difficulties, post-traumatic issues, domination and submission, social norms and obligations, and so much more. Not just issues with Sunny, but also things that James has to deal with due to his own history and upbringing.
James is a dream in how he patiently deals with everything. How he attempts to understand where everyone else assumes, the way he supports and embraces where everyone else censures and rejects. He doesn’t rush Catriona when she needs time, and he’s willing to listen even when he knows he will dislike what she has to tell him just because he understands that she needs to tell someone. He’s an absolute dream, even when he’s not being perfect, and I’d like to find where they keep the mold for that one!
I will caution that if you’re at all unsure about the sexual/erotic side of erotic romance, or if you ‘tolerate’ it rather than embrace it, you may have difficulty. It’s not just an erotic romance, but due to the medical issues and traumas that are also sexually related, the theme is pervasive. For myself, it was not a problem at all and felt very natural for that to be the subject, given the situation. However, if you’re not comfortable reading a book which is not only sexually explicit, but frequently so, you might want to take a pass and find a different book by the author which isn’t so sex focused — or read the ‘look inside’ preview and see if it hooks you in, I know that’s how it got me!
This book is going on my absolute favorites list for tackling these more serious issues, and doing it in such a good way. It brought plenty of tears, but I loved it to pieces. The only thing I’m disappointed about is that there’s no paperback edition for me to stick on my shelf or beg the author to sign for me, who knows, perhaps in the future!