Another book review! This time Bethany House has provided me with a copy of Hidden Affections by Delia Parr. The opinions expressed, as always, are my own and not influenced by the publisher.
The setting is western Pennsylvania and the time is 1831 when the lovely Annabelle Tyler finds herself robbed and handcuffed to a fellow stagecoach passenger, the wealthy, handsome Harrison Graymoor.
As soon as they are found after spending the night, quite innocently, together, the sheriff forces them to be married to protect Annabelle’s honor. The two decide they will keep the marriage a secret and get a quick annulment, since they don’t seem suited to each other at all, and in fact, Harrison has vowed never to marry. That plan didn’t work out, and the sham marriage must continue for awhile
while they wait for divorce papers from Indiana, the state then for quickie divorces.
Much of the book rests on the premise of this time in history when divorce is shameful, especially for the woman. Annabelle was previously married, although only for a week until her husband made off with her inheritance and then divorced her. She tries to keep that a secret because “proper” society would not accept her as a divorced woman and Harrison himself has stated that divorced women are “beyond redemption.” Her former husband, Eric Bradley, becomes a villain in the story.
One other theme of the book concerns Annabelle’s strong faith versus the lack of faith in Harrison’s life. Having lost all of his family, some quite early in his life, he really feels that God has forsaken him totally. He has known so much grief that he doesn’t really think God cares for him much at all. Annabelle, however, feels that “He’ll always give you the strength to embrace love and the courage and grace to face all the disappointments that life can hurl at you.” (122) Can she convince Harrison of that truth?
For the most part, the book was entertaining, but there were times one had to really stretch the imagination to believe the coincidences and turns taken in the story line. I did grow to like the main characters, as well as the housekeeper, Irene, and Harrison’s cousin Philip, who have a major role in this romance. For me…just an average tale.