My Thee-Thou Couple Who Need Their Own Series
Couple: Archimedea & Christian - "Flowers from the Storm"
Le Moment: Runaway Groom
This book caught me by surprise when I picked it up a few years ago. For one, I never cry reading romance stories, but this one was the first and only time I have. Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsdale is unlike any historical novel I've read, and it was written in the 90s. It's a long slow burn plot that is passionate and intense in all the right places. Two of the most unlikely mains fall in love, and I was here for every moment of it. My mind was so blown by it, when I had visited my mom, I pantomimed the plot to her. It's that good. I also have a partial quote of a line from the story mounted on my wall. So without a doubt, this book is in my Top 10 favorites of all time.
Not So Quick Rundown:
Christian, the Duke of Jervaulx (pronounced Shervoh), is a straight-up male whore with an inclination of mathematical equations. This cocky rake does them with a blind Quaker named Timms, whose daughter, Archimedea, side-eyes him immensely because he's secular and flaunts that fact.
Soon, she finds the duke had died, but months later, while visiting her cousin's asylum, Maddy discovers that's not the case. The duke, now a resident there, had a stroke and is unable to speak, a mathematical genius trapped in his own mind. Through her, he's rehabilitated out of the wild, crazed animal-like behavior he's resorted to. There's a lot of deadlines given in the course of this book so everything feels down to the wire for a while. He had to learn speech again for a hearing to proclaim him competent or he'd be sent back to the asylum, and his title taken from him. Christian fails at that, unable to say his own name although he was able to say it with Maddy. So his grandmother gave him a second chance with the prospect of marriage to a lady of good standing to secure an heir. Which leads to le moment for me.
Le Moment: Runaway Groom
Christian is trying to get his speech down for this wedding, memorizing all fifteen hundred names this lady has in his vows, not to mention his own. He and Maddy even do it in a cute sing-songy method for him to latch onto it better. But Christian is dismayed by this marriage, even if it means securing his freedom. The lady, Miss Anne Trotman, told him flat-out that she's only marrying him for the title and freaked out when he tried to touch her because he's considered to be a madman, and, I don't know, has cooties. Also, Christian wants Maddy, wishing he could give her more than the title of mistress. But he recognizes that she helped him through everything to get him to his point, and he couldn't be without her.
The day of the wedding comes. Everyone is there, including the people from the asylum. Christian is at the altar with Anne Trotman and....he chokes. He can't get the words out, although they’re racing through his mind, he can’t latch onto any of them. His grandmother tells the caretakers to take him back to the asylum, which makes Christian panic. He goes to the source of his soothing, his Maddygirl, frantically ushering her through the vestry of the church.
Everything intensifies as they try to get a door open while others are trying to break down another door to get to them. Christian's hands are still slightly impaired from his stroke. His anxiety is high from being captured and put back in a place that was terrible. Once free, the description of their hurried escape is wonderful and suspenseful. They wind through a foggy graveyard, her gown being snagged on a rose bush, and Christian tearing her dress to get her free. By the time they climb down from a wall, Maddy's hands are bleeding, her hair is down because Christian tossed away her "sugar scoop bonnet", which he's always hated, and her dress is torn. But even before dropping down from that wall, Maddy insists on Christian to go on promising that she'll make sure no one would find him. But he refused to leave without her, dragging her down to him and kissing her soundly before they escape by carriage to get as far away as they can.
The remaining plot while they're on the run still keeps the intensity up, hiding from place to place, white lies and a determined Christian who wants to ensure Maddy stays with him forever. Other little things before this made me want to ship them already despite a lot of Christian behavior. Despite his ailment, he's still determined to retain his title to spite his family. But he doesn't want just any miss to be his wife. Plain and peculiar Archimedea Timms is the only duchess he wants and is dependent on not only her forthrightness but also her love to become whole again.
Where to Find It:
This book is still in print and in e-book form. Also, how I read it via audiobook. Nicholas Boulton's voice is everything in how he brought everyone to life. His voice for the impassioned speech Christian does towards the end of the book is what made me cry, and is easily one of my favorite scenes in literature. Just to note, it can be a difficult read because Christian's speech and his understanding of others are written accordingly, not to mention the thee-thou way Maddy speaks as well. If this never becomes a live-action adaptation, I may have to question life.
Read & Ship On. :)