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Book review: Kilpack's 'A Heart Revealed' is a clean historical romance about a change of heart
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"A Heart Revealed" is by Josi S. Kilpack. - photo by Christine Rappleye
A HEART REVEALED, by Josi S. Kilpack, Shadow Mountain, $15.99, 322 pages (f)

Josi S. Kilpack has written a 12-part Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series along with other contemporary love stories.

A Heart Revealed is her first historical novel and is part of Shadow Mountains "A Proper Romance" brand that features clean love stories that dont have any descriptive sexual content. And she makes this successful genre transition with a well-told, emotional Regency-era tale that goes deeper than ballroom flirting and gossip and into a change of heart that hopefully makes room for love.

The star of the London season is Amber Marie Sterlington, and she is looking for a man with a fortune and title not just inheriting one in the distant future as she works, in part, to meet her parents expectations. Marrying for love isnt part of the plan.

Shes haughty and selfish; cares about looks, gossip and position; and was bred by emotionally distant parents to improve her familys social standing and connections.

Amber certainly isnt kind as she snubs Thomas Richard, the third son of a country lord, who is in London looking for a wife who would be happy in the country, especially on his land in Yorkshire.

When Ambers hair thins and she starts to go bald with a condition now known as alopecia, she soon realizes that shes becoming a person she would have looked down on. While she has devised an explanation for her hair loss that seems to be accepted, after a public humiliation at a ball, her family sends her to Yorkshire to live in a tiny house with just her maid, Suzanne.

Determined to make the most of their situation, Suzanne insists on respect and kindness between them. Now expected to help with cooking and other household tasks, a humbled and reclusive Amber sees life from a different perspective, but feels it may be too late for love and hopes at least to be invited back to her familys home.

Thomas returns from London without a wife. As he works to clear up the paperwork for his land ownership, it brings him to a cottage where a reclusive woman lives one whose voice he recognizes from London. He is curious as to why the woman most of the men including himself were smitten with would be so far from the city.

A Heart Revealed has a layered emotional depth that makes it easy to dislike Ambers pettiness and later appreciate her change of heart and root for her as she tries to navigate through emotions she hadnt previously considered or valued. Kilpack keeps the story moving and engaging through Amber's self-discovery.

Living up to the "A Proper Romance" brand standard, the romances dont go beyond flirting and some kissing. There is no swearing or described violence.