Harvest House Publishers, September 2003
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
THE PURSUIT is the fourth book in The English Garden Series by Lori Wick. Set in 1812, the lives of friends and families from Collingbourne, England intertwine to produce a tapestry of Regency romance.
Edward Steele is planning to return to Collingbourne, England for Christmas. He and his brother, Henry, are wrapping up an adventurous trip to Africa when Henry decides to return home ahead of his brother. Edward stays behind, visiting with friends until his ship, The Red Dragon prepares to sail. Onboard the ship, Edward is berthed with Denley, a traveling companion and servant to the young and mysterious Mr. Osborne. Osborne, an awkward and stand-offish fellow, keeps to himself. When Denley falls gravely ill on the voyage he is forced to leave the ship at the next port of call. In Lisbon, Edward helps carry Denley to an Inn to seek medical help.
Clinging to life, Denley implores Edward to delay his trip and stay in Lisbon to help Mr. Osborne, in case Denley should not live. Denley fears the lad would not be able to manage his burial arrangements or make his way home alone. Edward promises to delay his return and remain with them. However, Edward soon realizes Mr. Osborne is no mister. Instead she is a lovely girl, Niki Bettencourt, traveling disguised as a young man. Edward discovers he will need guidance from God to lead him through this troubled situation and to gain the trust of the secretive young women he has promised to protect.
Written in a very proper and whimsical style reminiscent of Jane Austen's work, this novel will carry you back into another era. It's a simple tale, simply told. The mystery of why Niki Bettencourt is masquerading as a young man is drawn out and I found it difficult to accept the reasoning for the lengths these characters go to for propriety's sake. While I am sure this novel met the requirement of the line it was published for, it is not a particularly suspenseful story, despite the mystery element.
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