"Hardly knowing why, he chased after her as she moved through the ballroom so fast he could barely keep up. Edmund found her in the grand hall, looking desperately between the two staircases. She made for the one on the left, but he was right behind her."
For most of society a glittering ballroom holds fun and excitement. A chance to be with friends, make new acquaintances, dance with a handsome gentlemen, and fall in love. For Eleanor Hayward it holds gossiping tabbies and anxiety. In an attempt to put a family scandal behind her, Eleanor is reentering society after three year of isolation. In her cousin's glittering ballroom she comes face-to-face with the man who broke her heart all those years ago.
thoughts & feelings
You know that feeling when you begin a book and you know within the first few pages that it's going to be a long night because there is NO WAY you are putting it down? The books that hold you so captive that you put aside every logical thought about how you need to act like an adult and go to bed? This is one of those books.
Never fear, I did actually act like an adult and go to bed...at 11:00 and then got up at 3:00, taught my class, and continued reading until I had finished the book. Reading a novel in under twelve hours is a feat and proves just how amazing this story truly is. I exaggerate not when I say that everyone needs to read this.
I LOVE the mystery element that Heidi Kimball has wrapped into Eleanor's story. This novel flips between the "current" time, 1816, and three years previous. At the beginning of the novel we are presented with two "mysteries." First, what is the scandal that made the Hayward family leave society and go into isolation? Second, what exactly happened between Eleanor and Edmund and just how serious was their relationship? Throughout the novel the answers are slowly presented to us through this time flip. These mysteries are made even greater by the fact that our main characters are trying to solve the mysteries themselves. Eleanor desperately wishes to know why Edmund fled a ballroom three years ago. Edmund is trying to put all the pieces together of the Hayward family scandal. If you are anything like me you will probably try to solve both mysteries...and your guess will be wrong. I wish you the best of luck in your guessing, and hope you're a better detective than I am.
I also love the realistic nature of this story. Both main characters are realistic about their situations and understand what life, and society, expects from them. Edmund is basically promised to another and Eleanor is still surrounded by scandal. However, they both seek answers and hope to somewhat repair the relationship they had years ago. In essence they are both desperately trying heal so that they can move on with life, and find joy.
If you are looking for a terrific read or a book to gift someone I definitely recommend this one! I just finished it a few days ago and am already tempted to revisit it's pages. It's that good.
Steam Level: clean, kissing
Trigger Warnings: talk of war, family death, family illness
Title: A Guarded Heart
Author: Heidi Kimball