Book Review For “Once and Always”
By: Judith McNaught
Simon & Shuster
Best selling author Judith McNaught engages her readers with another riveting romance, “Once and Always.” Published in 1898, this classic is hard to put down. It captures the reader’s attention immediately with an interesting twist on the heroine’s heritage and dives into the story with somber, yet revealing scenes regarding the main characters, Victoria and Jason.
The story first shows us American daughters, Victoria and Dorothy Seaton who are orphaned as young adults and sent to live with their English relatives. Set in 1815, “Once and Always” focuses on Victoria’s adventures in England when she goes to live with Charles, Due of Atherton, who she affectionately calls her uncle. While Charles has no real relationship to Victoria, her own great-grandmother won’t take her in because Victoria reminds the old woman of her mother, Katherine. Surprisingly, Victoria is a Scottish countess, a title she has inherited from her mother. Charles, who harbored a deep seated love for Victoria’s mother takes the young girl into his care and rather boldly places an announcement in “The Times” announcing Victoria’s engagement to his heir, Jason Fielding.
Jason, while handsome, has a cold, distant heart, a product of his upbringing. He’s rather abrupt with Victoria, but she holds her own against him, surprising him when he least expects it. Slowly, Victoria starts to chip away at the stone which ha hardened Jason’s heart. The couple procrastinate regarding an actual wedding, as both try to find a way to break the engagement honorably. Victoria is introduced to London society in which she’s well received. Charles forces their hands with a feigned sickness when he fears a man from America which Victoria was sweet on might come to find her, and the two finally marry. Unfortunately, a series of misunderstandings between the pair may derail their chance at true happiness.
McNaught’s writing is sharp, fast-paced, and accurate. She paints vivid scenes and evokes heartfelt emotion from the reader with ease. Her heroine, Victoria, is one of the most likable heroines I’ve read. Jason is also a dynamic character and it is delightful to see the positive change that Victoria and her love have on him.
“Once and Always” is well paced and hard to let go with it’s breath taking descriptions and enticing characters. It is written with shifting points of view, jumping from Victoria to Jason and other characters without breaks. With a historical backdrop, this is a must for romance readers.