There is a reason why all those Regency and Victorian romances sell so well. And there’s a reason why Jane Austen novels have been adapted and re-adapted to TV and movies. And that same reason is why I absolutely loved A Hopeless Romantic, by one of my favorite contemporary romance authors, Harriet Evans.

A Hopeless Romantic is the story of Laura Foster, a 28 year old London woman who lives her life wrapped up in romantic fantasies in her search for The One. After a devastating and humiliating break-up, she’s brought back to earth with a definite thud. In the process, she loses her job, her friends and her self-esteem. And she decides to stop living with her head in a romantic cloud. It’s time to be practical and turn over a new leaf. No more fantasizing about Mr. Right and jumping in with both feet. And first she has to get over Mr. Totally Wrong.

On a holiday with her parents in Norfolk and bored out of her mind, she agrees to visit a nearby estate called Chartley Hall (I kept reading this as Chatterly. I must have Sean Bean on the brain) which is open to the public for tours.  While there, she accidentally meets Nick Needham, who invites her for drinks at a local club. Despite her best intentions, she decides to take him up on the offer. We watch as Laura fights her attraction to Nick, and then just when she’s ready to give in to it and possibly fall again, she finds out something about him that totally pulls her up short. While Laura’s reasons for not pursuing her relationship with Nick are as bewildering to him as they are to me,  I came to understand that it’s not really who Nick is that’s keeping her from giving her heart. It’s really who Laura has become. She can’t trust herself enough to make the right decisions and she can’t trust Nick enough to not get hurt again. She’s afraid to make that leap of faith that used to come so easily to her.

A Hopeless Romantic is filled with wonderful secondary characters. Laura’s relationship with her grandmother is especially poignant and her interaction with her roommate Yorkie, her friend Jo and Nick’s best friend Charles, help us see different sides of Laura that may not otherwise be evident. I’ve noticed that Ms. Evans has a knack for using her secondary characters in this way.  They are by no means superfluous to the story, but are as important to it as the main characters.

Harriet Evans has written a wonderful  love story that basically combines the best of contemporary romance with a touch of what makes historical romances so alluring.   The hero truly loves the heroine, and best of all, he’s a …. well, I won’t give the rest away.

The reason why we love our historical romances? True love prevails;  the heroine gets the hero in the end of course, and he’s usually titled, wealthy and extremely good looking.  And the reason why I love this present day romance so much? For the same reason and one more; if I were 25 years younger, single, living on the other side of the Atlantic, and looking for love, after reading this I could almost believe it could happen to me. A girl can dream, can’t she?

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