Oh boy! Isn't it just wonderful when something unexpectedly delightful comes your
way. That is what readers will feel when they read For All Eternity,
an altogether charming and completely enchanting romance that will leave you
breathless, satisfied and aching for more. Author Heather Cullman has created a
splendidly entertaining tale, using humor, passion, and forgiveness to tell a
backward Cinderella story. The hero and heroine are a memorable match; he is
perfection personified – a handsome prince and fairy godfellow all rolled up in one.
She is fallen angel that both the hero, and the reader, come to love.
But it doesn't start out that way. When we first meet Miss Sophie Barrington, she is
one of the most snobbish, self-centered creatures ever to invade the upper echelon
of the haute ton. Young, blonde, and beautiful, Sophie has conquered society and become the most sought after heiress of the season. She has attracted the
attention of society's elite, among them Nicholas Somerville, Lord Lyndhurst. At
the urging of her guardian and cousin, the selfish Miss Sophie has spent a good
deal of time with Nicholas, usually drifting off in her thoughts to dream of the
charming and handsome Julian Oxley. For his part, Nicholas is ready to marry and
thinks Sophie is beautiful and demure. She thinks Nicholas is too tall, boring, and
oh, that wretched scar on his face. She can barely bring herself to look at it.
So imagine Sophie's utter shock when her guardian decrees she must marry
Nicholas for financial reasons. It seems Sophie's dowry has been used to pay some family debts and she is now in dire financial straits. Her cousin demands that she accept Nicholas' proposal and say nothing of her financial situation – or else he'll leave
her to the creditors and flee for America. When Sophie makes the mistake of
visiting Oxley alone at his bachelor quarters to tell him of her tragedy and he
notifies the entire ton of her predicament, that is precisely what happens.
Alone and penniless, with no where else to turn, Sophie flees London for the
country where she lands a job as a maid in the household of the Marquess of
Beresford. Her "quality" demeanor is not missed by the backstairs servants, but
Sophie is now part of a world where a person's status is defined by the station they
hold within the house. As a maid of all trades, Sophie occupies the lowest rung,
and it is here that she begins to learn a few valuable life lessons – like the
satisfaction of a job well done and the simple joy in doing something nice for
someone and expecting nothing in return. Sophie is just beginning to catch on
when she discovers that the future heir to the household is none other than the
same Nicholas Somerville she so callously humiliated.
When Nicholas finds the hated Miss Sophie hiding in his house, it's the perfect
chance to revenge. This is the book's turning point – where plot machinations take backseat to character development and the ashes of Sophie and Nicholas'
relationship are slowly fanned into flame. Though Nicholas is determined to exact
his pound of flesh, he is dismayed to find himself even more intrigued by Sophie
than before. He can't quite forgive her, but he doesn't totally condemn her either.
Nicholas knows that though he was taken in by Sophie's beauty and caught up in
the race to gain her favors, he did not love her. Seeing Sophie struggle through
degrading and menial chores initially soothes his bruised pride. But he also sees
that Sophie faces each challenge almost willingly. Indeed, she accepts her current
status as penance for her previous loathsome behavior. Day by day, Sophie
becomes less a self-centered girl and more a self-reliant woman. And as for
Nicholas – she wonders how she could possibly have viewed him as anything less
than the handsome man he is. So strong. So patient. Why even the faint scar that
crosses his cheek now fascinates where it used to repel.
The transformation of Sophie from spoiled brat to starry-eyed lover is beguiling in
its simplicity. We experience each step of her ever changing emotions: from sullen gratitude to curiosity; from infatuation and sexual awakening to friendship and love.
It's a gratifyingly enjoyable ride! Sophie's childlike belief in boogiemen and bogles
and humorous thoughts about sex belie her sophistication and endear her to the
reader. As for Nicholas, he makes my top ten of heartthrob heroes!
The author has my eternal thanks for allowing these characters to speak freely and
openly about subjects both silly and serious. Both Sophie and Nicholas wear their
hearts and emotions on their sleeves, neither feeling compelled to participate in the requisite dance where such things are usually kept hidden. I don't think I would
have fallen quite so in love with Nicholas had he been one of those, "I'll never love
again" types. Nor could I have forgiven Sophie her snobbery if she wasn't so
honest about it. If she makes the transition from pompous brat to paragon too
quickly, well, it keeps pace with the developing relationship. Nicholas' growing
ardor for Sophie is palpable. When the two finally do come together in a kiss, the
page practically combusts with the force and heat of their discovery.
I found it all satisfying from beginning to end. And believe me, it's been a while
since I've come across a book that forced me to stay up way past my bedtime
and be late for work in the morning as well! Heather Cullman's writing is so
entertaining that it compels the reader to utter those deadly words, "just one more
page" over and over again. With For All Eternity she has a story that
circles under your eyes worthwhile.