Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Spotlight Review:

LET IT BE ME – Kate Noble
Berkley Sensation
ISBN: 978-0-425-25120-1
April 2013
Historical Romance

England and Italy, 1824

Sometimes it's difficult being the middle child. It's especially difficult if one is sharing a social Season with a beautiful and wildly popular older sister. Wouldn't one think that now the elder sister is married, it would be easier? It's not easier at all for Miss Bridget Forrester in London's little season this January. It's as though she still doesn't exist except as the plain sister of the golden Sarah.

Sometimes a windfall is just that—a stroke of luck. When a storm causes a tree to fall onto the Forrester London house, Bridget convinces her mother that a visit to a warmer climate is in order. Several years ago when she was a young girl, Mr. Oliver Merrick and his friend, the celebrated musician and composer Signor Vincenzo Carpenini, visited their household near Portsmouth and heard her play the piano. Carpenini was struck by her talent and offered to tutor her, but that didn't work out. But Bridget happened to sit next to Lord Merrick recently, who told her Carpenini is staying with his son in Venice. Why not take this opportunity to travel to Italy while the house is being repaired? Mrs. Forrester thought that a good idea, so she, Bridget, and sixteen year-old Amanda took sail.

Being a second son, especially one born of a second wife who is foreign, is not always easy. Oliver Merrick never felt as though he quite fit in in England, so he traveled to Italy, his mother's homeland. Here he found a niche in her theatrical world. At the moment, he's hoping to open his own theater and produce the opera being written by Vincenzo. All is not going well with Carpenini who lost his patron, the Marchese di Garibaldi. Both men are startled when an unknown miss appears at their door asking for piano lessons. Oliver eventually recalls her, and she is accepted as a pupil of the temperamental Italian. They all become embroiled in a competition over who is the better composer, Carpenini or the Marchese's new Austrian protégé? How to determine that? A contest between the Austrian's male pupil, and the Carpenini's female pupil. Who else could it be but Bridget, who suffers stage fright playing for anyone but family?

Ms. Noble excels in creating interesting, far from the usual characters, and Bridget and Oliver are certainly unique and sympathetic. Bridget is very talented, but lacks self-confidence, and Oliver doesn't appreciate his own worth. They are in for the ride of their lives, and not everyone hopes they will succeed.

LET IT BE ME has a lighter side, but serious emotions are involved. The settings, descriptions and dialogue are very well done. If there is a reservation to be voiced, it's just that the whole is heavily invested with music and the musical world. However, if, like me, you aren't very musical, there is a lot that can be learned while being entertained with the rest of the story.

Jane Bowers

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