I’m far from a Jane Austen expert, in part because I’m French and grew up reading French classics (and YA novels from English-speaking countries, since my mother would buy any book I wanted as long as it was in English, great way to learn), so while I have an idea of the atmosphere, it all feels very exotic. I’m reading or planning to read so many Austen retellings that, while they usually stand alone perfectly, I wonder whether the time hasn’t come to go back to the original, which I read a thousand years ago, as a teenager. For the time being, however, I’ll focus on Lucas.
I spent most of my time reading Lucas thinking how fabulous and exquisite the writing was. I could feel my brain cells dance with joy. I didn’t stay on the surface though, as that beautiful and, as far as I can tell, accurate writing tells a captivating story of forbidden love.
Married to a man she doesn’t love and who doesn’t love her, grieving the death of her son, Charlotte Collins, née Lucas, has convinced herself that she’s content with her boring life. The arrival of Ailsa Reid, the local doctor’s bright and irreverent cousin, shatters the still image of life as she knows it and fills Charlotte with all sorts of desires and possibilities. In letters – never sent – to her best friend (and first love) Elizabeth Darcy, née Bennet, she describes growing feelings and love between herself and Ailsa, the schemes they have to resort to, the hope and despair.
Even if she doesn’t understand it immediately, it’s love at first sight for Charlotte (and for Ailsa, as she’ll tell her repeatedly afterwards). At first, it’s all stolen looks and secret touches, until their first night together allows them to explore further, unleashing fire and passion. The intimate scenes are just as grandiose as the rest of the book, the author detailing the actions and events lesfic readers are used to reading about with completely different words, without ever weakening the hotness of the scenes. If you’ve ever felt like you’re reading the same sex scene over and over in lesfic, these will delight you.
There’s a lot more to this book than pretty words and clever turns of phrase. Ailsa is irresistible, clever, with a strong will and a kind heart. Charlotte aka Charly aka Lucas is naive and sensitive and passionate. They’re wonderful characters that you’ll just want to root for. Around them, each character has a very real personality. Charlotte’s husband is both bland and annoying, Ailsa’s cousin Tom is earnest and kind, Lady Catherine de Bourgh is stern and a diva, her daughter Anne and her nurse are full of surprises…
Beyond the romance, Lucas is a tale of adventures, of unforeseen betrayals and unexpected allies. It’s as heartbreaking as it is clever and, yes, thrilling and funny too.