Historical Romance Review: Call Back the Dream by Barbara Hazard

Call Back the Dream, Barbara Hazard, Harlequin, 1991, Elaine Duillo cover artist

SPOILER ALERT

5 Stars

Rating: 5 out of 5.

As I prefer to read older works, many of my favorites go way back (30+ years), so, unfortunately, most are widely unknown and/or out of print. One of these is this dazzling gem, Barbara Hazard’s Call Back the Dream. The Elaine Duillo cover is stunning, with the heroine in a glorious pink gown and a rare red-haired hero. And yes, in this case, you can judge a book by its cover.

Camille Talbot is a vicar’s beloved daughter who loves and is loved by young Alexander Maxwell, an earl’s son. Their romance is one of the sweetest I’ve ever read, but there is a lot of sadness and suffering before they can be together (no violence, just heartache). This story spans 15 years. There is only one brief love scene that is exquisitely written, which the entire plot hinges upon, but other than that, the sensuality is mildly warm. Don’t expect any bodice-ripping, but do expect a lot of sentiment.

Barbara Hazard just had an excellent way of straddling the line between beauty and tragedy. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much for a romance except for when I read Rebecca Brandewyne’s western bodice-ripper Love Cherish Me or anything by the great Penelope Williams.

There are so many genuinely sad parts of this book. The cruel machinations of others separate Alexander and Camille, but after much heartache, they finally get the ending they deserve.

And even though it’s a happy ending, it’s bittersweet: Alexander burns down his ancestral home, renouncing the Earldom his father had striven so hard to maintain. Society is shocked by his actions, but Alexander doesn’t care. His burden is lifted from his shoulders as he is thankful that God had blessed his marriage with only daughters. Alexander gazes with adoration at his wife and two daughters as they walk in the garden. He is so thankful for what he has been given, yet sorrowful about what he has been denied.

The ramifications of Alexander and Camille’s love story continue in the very good sequel, The Heart Remembers.

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