Carla Kelly: Summer Campaign

Miss Onyx Hamilton knew the risk of going to Major Jack Beresford’s isolated country estate. Surely her husband-to-be, the right Reverend Andrew Littletree, would not condone her leaving the safety of home for the perils that this place posed for so lovely and desirable a young lady. Surely tongues would wag about what she was doing with so eminently attractive and intriguingly unattached a gentleman as the major. But Onyx’s worry was not what her fiancé would think or what the world would say. Rather it was what she would do if Jack Beresford took her in his arms…

Onyx Hamilton (and yes, Kelly does provide rationale for her first name) is en route to attend to Reverend Littletree’s parsonage (in need of serious repair) when everything goes terribly wrong.  I don’t want to spoil the ensuing drama, for it very entertaining, but I will say that circumstances eventually throw Onyx and returning solider Beresford together.

We have a bit of a Florence Nightgale story unfold, and there is a lot of drama throughout.  I confess, the ending was definitely a tear jerker and the novel itself had me staying up into the wee hours to finish it.

Summer Campaign is an old Harlequin title now re-released in ebook form, so true to its former publishing tradition is a classical Regency.  Aside from some violence and a few kissing/embracing scenes, its clean, vanilla and full of wonderfully unfolding romance.  Those who favor Austen’s more serious bent or Heyer’s Infamous Army historical detail, you will enjoy Kelly’s deep dive look into the return of Regency soldiers from the Napoleanic wars.  Not overly cumbersome, history enriches the plot and characters and provides a wonderful foundation for the drama and romance.

Its definitely more serious than I expected, and more serious than I typically favor, but the characters are well developed and the details authentic enough to really give a strong Regency flavor.  The hero is also wonderful and masculine, and although not handsome or titled and with plenty of war-scars, a real gem.  The heroine is also different, with a really heart-rending backstory and very little but her strong character to recommend her.  This makes the love between the H/h so much more palatable and realistic.

There is a clear reason this gets high marks on numerous sites, including Good Reads. Its a classic example of a traditional Regency, with a beautiful love story that effectively uses the time period to frame a romance that might otherwise seem impossible.

5 out of 6, authentic details and interesting hero and heroine balance a  serious tone.  Well written and definitely a barn-burner.

Content Rating/Heat Index
Moderate adult subject matter
Brief kissing
Some mention of rape, assault, and war related violence
Recommended for readers mature enough to handle serious subject matter.

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2 Responses to Carla Kelly: Summer Campaign

  1. Summer Campaign isn’t an old Harlequin, actually; it’s from the old Signet Regency line. It was Kelly’s second published book (the first was Daughter of Fortune, which is not a regency). The Signet ISBN is 0451158369; it was published in March 1989 and reissued in September 1993. If I recall correctly, Hilary Ross was editing the Signet regency line in those days – a brilliant editor who really understood what regencies are all about. It is good to see this classic, moving novel back in print again.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks for the correction, Janice! I could’ve sworn I read Harlequin on the title page, but Signet makes a lot more sense!