Hiding (1991) by Barbara Cartland
[synopsis from the back of the book] The Earl of Kelvindale was fleeing a devious mistress when he was thrown by his horse--and saved by the winsome Carita, herself on the run from a shocking alliance devised by her stepfather. Desperate for protection, the young, beautiful orphan claimed that the Stranger--the Earl incognito--was her husband. In the days and perils that followed, Carita fell in love with the handsome Stranger she had rescued. Unbeknownst to her, he was the most eligible and elusive catch of the Beau Monde!
Okay...I managed to make it 51 years without reading a Barbara Cartland romance novel. Were it not for a certain reading challenge that I signed up for (I'm looking at you, Linz the Bookworm's 2021 Reading Challenge), that record would still be unbroken. Would that it were. She may may be a household name when it come to romance novels. She may have been a best-seller. But, if this novel is any indication, she couldn't write for toffee. Her sentences are stilted and monotonous. She had no clue what a paragraph was for. And the prose throughout the first two-thirds is deadly dull. If I hadn't needed to finish the thing to cross off the category, then I would have stopped after twenty pages. The only saving grace is that this was a large print edition, a very short book, and the narrative picks up a bit in liveliness in the last third--but not nearly enough.
If you want to read an interesting Regency romance written by someone who knows what the English language is for, then I heartily recommend Georgette Heyer. If you want a romance novel with religious overtones, then I recommend Grace Livingston Hill. ★
First line: The Earl of Kelvindale felt a soft body move against his.
Last line: It is what all men and women seek and which those who are pure in heart find.