I’ve read Edith Layton on and off over the years, and Alas, My Love is probably going to be one of her stories that I’ll remember, besides The Gilded Cage.
This book brings together two lost souls – foundlings who felt adrift despite having achieved material success, of sorts in their adoptive world. Amyas St. Ives is a self-made ex-con who’s on a quest to find his roots, and gain respectability through marriage to a well-born bride, while Amber, who knows little of her past before being taken in as ward of a respectable family in a coastal town in Cornwall, but yearns for somebody to love her for herself.
It came as no wonder that they should be drawn to each other even while they try to deny what’s in their heart and dreams. Especially Amyas, who so longs to have a family to call his own that he was ready to sacrifice his love for Amber in order to win the hand of her adoptive sister. It was therefore a blessing in disguise that he was turned away after confessing the truth of his background to the latter’s father.
Cast adrift again, it took him a while to realize the mistake he’s made, but by the time he did, Amber has already discovered that she was born to a French aristocratic family and betrothed to another noble. So when she finally received Amyas’ letter professing his love and asking for her hand in marriage, it seemed that he would be too late.
But of course, fate has other plans, which I shan’t divulge here so as not to give the plot away. It’s pretty obvious what the ending will be anyway, so no prizes if you guess it correctly.
What I enjoyed about this story is the use of seemingly ordinary folks, matching an ex-criminal with a ‘lost princess’, as main characters. Layton seems to truly understand the deepest emotions that grip us, and she engages you with issues that would matter most to the reader – the need for self esteem, self actualization; the craving for love and a deep seated desire of the soul to find its missing half. She paced the development of the relationship between both leads marvelously and used simple words that effectively conveyed the feelings of all the characters, not just the leads.
All in all, a touching tale that proved to be engrossing and uplifting.