He despised her; that much was clear. And she couldn’t blame him. If he’d rejected her for such shallow reasons as dowry or family status, she would have hated him, too. … Most days she despised herself, but not for the reason people would suppose.
(from Constant Hearts)
Donna Hatch’s Regency-era short story Constant Hearts (available for free on Kindle as of this posting) is inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. The story centers on Amelia, the daughter of a Lord who rejected the man she loved at the urging of her uncle and then endured a horrid marriage to a man who met all of the criteria of a worthy husband but lacked all of the attributes necessary for happiness. Reed last saw Amelia six years ago when she broke his heart. Having served in the war as the private surgeon of a general, he has gained some respectability since then. The two reunite at a party and share a kiss, but Reed is still dealing with the pain of her rejection and subsequent marriage, and even though Amelia reveals her guilt over it all, he isn’t ready to forgive her just yet.
Amelia is more forthcoming with her feelings than Anne Elliot in Persuasion, and Reed seems to hold less of a grudge than Captain Wentworth, but I liked them both and that the story isn’t a straight retelling of Austen’s novel. The story is different enough and the characters intriguing enough to stand on their own. I only wish the story had been fleshed out into a novella or novel, as the character development and conclusion felt a bit rushed.
Even so, Constant Hearts is a charming short story, and Hatch managed to get me to care about Amelia and Reed from the very beginning. If you’re a fan of Persuasion, or Regency romances in general, and want a quick, satisfying read, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Disclosure: Constant Hearts is from my personal library.
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