I am an avid fan of historical fiction writer Sarah M. Eden. Usually, she writes Regency Era romances. The third book in Eden’s Jonquil brothers series, As You Are, takes place in Regency Era England and focuses on the quietest of the seven Jonquil sons, Corbin. Completely smitten with a widow Clara Bentford, who recently moved into his neighborhood, Corbin awkwardly tries to find the courage to talk to her. Slowly he develops a relationship with her and her two children. But she carries heavy secrets from her past, bringing to question how Corbin, shy as he is, can win her heart as he is.
Thoughts and feelings:
As a general rule, Eden is very romantic, and I like how she treats relationships in her books. For Corbin and Clara, I pondered what it means to love someone and be loved by someone as we are. Corbin’s brothers told him many ways to court a lady, how he could win her attention and affections through fashion, conversation, flowers, and the like. However, as we all know, there is no guaranteed formula for winning another’s love. It is worse still to try and change ourselves for it to happen.
Eden showed through this story how love comes not so much through passionate encounters. Love is not a blazing flame but a glowing, steady ember. The love which grows between her characters Corbin and Clara spoke of a beautiful beginning. The fun thing is their story doesn’t end just at marriage. At the end of this book, I felt their story was just beginning, and their relationship had a solid foundation of trust, respect, and faith.
Corbin was an endearing and heartwarming character. He struggled in conversation but was a gentleman in every sense of the word. Not only was he noble, but he was also self-sufficient, hardworking, and respectful despite his family’s status. The dominant image of men is of aggressive masculinity. They fight, swear, and are brusque in conversation and relationships. It is not often you see men who are sensitive and gentle. Corbin was such a person. But that did not mean he was weak.
Clara came from a past riddled with abusive and controlling men. Her father, late husband, and brother-in-law were some of the main perpetrators. She didn’t need a baron, a well-dressed dandy, or the world’s greatest conversationalist. She needed someone gentle with her and her children. She needed someone willing to stand up for her. Corbin didn’t need to change. He won her love simply by being himself.
I recommend this book because it displays a healthy courtship and needed healing between two people. I’m not one for romance novels with clothes falling off and love triangles. I love stories that build a foundation for healthy relationships, where children can safely grow and learn important virtuous principles. I don’t need more Edward Cullens or Jacobs. I need more men like Corbin Jonquil who was gentle, courteous, and noble in his own quiet way. Lovable just as he was.
‘I. . . I tried being fashionable and making an impression that way. And I . . . I tried to seem more assertive. That didn’t work. The family even . . . even forced me onto her pew. But she -‘ He shook his head in frustration. ‘She is grateful to me, but I can’t seem to . . . Nothing I do-‘ He wasn’t sure how to finish the thought. Clara didn’t love him or trust him enough to stay with him.
‘Oh, Corbin.’ Mater stopped him in the middle of the corridor, squeezing his arm. ‘Being something you are not isn’t the way to win a woman’s affections.’
‘Being me doesn’t seem to be the way either.’
‘If Clara Bentford does not love you, Corbin Lucas Jonquil, precisely as you are, then she is not the lady for you, my dear.’ Mater gently patted his cheek.-Pg 156, “As You Are”, Sarah M. Eden
‘You have said how . . . happy the children are.’ He rubbed her back as she lay silently in his arms. ‘Are you happy, my Clara?’
From the circle of his arms, she answered quietly. ‘I used to think good men did not exist. But then I met you, Corbin Jonquil, and discovered I was wrong. All my life I kept hoping you were out there somewhere and then when I found you, you would love me.’
‘You were . . . hoping for a . . . stuttering, awkward . . . ?’
She pulled back from him enough to give him the glare which he’d become very swiftly acquainted over the preceding fortnight. Corbin stopped his teasing protest and kept his smile firmly tucked away. He ought not to rib her as he did, but her fierce defense of her bumbling husband never failed to touch hm. He felt unspeakably blessed that the lady he loved returned his regard despite his lack of polish.
Clara’s look remained severe. ‘You will not insult the man I’ve dreamed about all my life.’
He held back a grin. ‘These dreams of yours sound like nightmare-‘
Her fingertips pressed to his lips cut off his words. ‘Do not, Corbin.’ She slipped her fingers to his cheek. ‘You are wonderful, and I will not have anyone, including you, say otherwise.’
‘I am the man of your dreams?’ He smiled a little at the thought.
‘Of every’ – she pressed a kiss to his lips- ‘single’ – she kissed his again- ‘dream.’Pg 192 As You Are, Sarah M. Eden