Major Adrian Chester knew he shouldn’t have taken a shortcut that took him off the main road out of London. Of course, the country boobies and the backroads led to his Phaeton’s wheel breaking and a most unacceptable delay in his journey north! It also, however, leads him to seek help at a run-down manor house, where the young, innocent, and impoverished Petula Buckden has been struggling to make ends meet since the death of her father. Enchanted by her sweetness, so different from the London charmers he’s used to, Adrian steals a kiss before he drives away, determined never to see the lovely maiden again.
Of course, Adrian doesn’t count on the intervention of Petula’s Uncle Roderick, with his gambling habit and keen eye for profit. Determined not to be the “beggar baronet,” Petula’s uncle hatches a scheme to sell the family property and present Petula to London society as an heiress. Her job is to snag a wealthy suitor and ensure her uncle’s financial future. Although the scheme is not to the heroine’s taste, what choice has she but to go along?
Then, when making the rounds at society parties, Petula sees a familiar face: Adrian, whose true position is much more exalted than that of a mere Major. As enchanted as they are with each other, there are obstacles to their match.
At a hundred and fifty pages, The Twists and Turns of Love is a very thin volume, and suffers, unfortunately, from a correspondingly thin plot. Cartland seems to be struggling to find a story, and although the first section of the book (where “Major Adrian Chester” encounters Petula working in the kitchen garden and slowly warms up to her) is sweet, the rest of the book is written by the numbers. The “villain” of the piece, Uncle Roderick, is not compelling, nor is his plot to marry off his niece and his (and his mistress’s!) easy entrée into high society believable. No more believable is the sequence of lucky coincidences that bring the book to a close.
Although Adrian and Petula have chemistry at first, their relationship soon devolves into few tepid meetings and breathless murmurs. Unlike in The Duchess Disappeared, Cartland fails to create sparks or any substantial conflict to drive her story forward. This tepid romance, combined with an unsatisfactory plot, does not make for a compelling read.
Here’s hoping that the next Barbara Cartland book on my list delivers on its promise!