A Spark of Romance

Romantic Encounters Book 3

Romance - Historical
429 Pages
Reviewed on 04/19/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

A Spark of Romance is a work of fiction penned by author Paullett Golden in the romance, historical, and interpersonal drama genres, and is the third installment in the Romantic Encounters series. The work is suitable for the general adult reading audience as a clean romance. Readers are invited to enjoy a lighthearted Gothic satire set in a world where dreams collide with reality. Isobel Lambeth, a dreamer of fanciful romance, finds herself entangled in a Gothic-inspired mystery involving hauntings and abductions. Alistair Trowbridge, her intended love interest, is caught off guard when his father's actions cast doubt on their budding relationship. As they unravel the secrets behind locked doors, adventure intertwines with romance, leading to unexpected revelations and sparks of love.

Author Paullett Golden has crafted a delightful literary journey that confidently blends historical romance with Gothic charm, creating a captivating narrative filled with mystery, intrigue, and humor. There’s a wonderful sense of empathy and enthusiasm in the presentation of the characters, as though Golden has brought friends into gorgeous living colors for us to meet them and see their lives play out before us. Isobel's whimsical outlook on life contrasts beautifully with Alistair's steadfast demeanor, leading to moments of tension and tenderness as they get to know themselves better because of their interactions with other people. The village setting and the exploration of multicultural relationships are beautifully described with vivid and atmospheric language that adds yet more to the mood of the piece as a whole. Meanwhile, the cleverly woven romance tropes offer a satirical tongue-in-cheek feel to the narration that keeps readers engaged until the satisfying conclusion. Overall, A Spark of Romance is a charming and entertaining read that delivers on its promise of romance, adventure, and a touch of whimsy, and I would certainly recommend it.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

What does it mean to fall in love? Is it a fanciful adventure where a noble personage, a hero, rescues a damsel locked away in a tower? Or is it something so simple as falling for the one standing next to you, wooing you at every turn, showing patience and affection to both you and everything you do? In Paullett Golden’s A Spark of Romance, Isobel is wrapped up in her fantasy adventures, all in the genre of love and romance. But, when her dreams take root and become her reality, does she really become the damsel in distress that she writes about? And is Alistair, the one who adores her at every turn, Isobel’s hero? Add a bit of mystery and a few skeletons in the closet and the story within a story will take flight.

Paullett Golden’s novel, A Spark of Romance, is the third book in her Romantic Encounters series. The story had everything a romance reader will appreciate: romance (of course), a damsel in distress and a roguish hero set to rescue her, a fast-moving plot, believable characters, and a little bit of mystery. The author knows how to weave a fanciful tale, even if her tale is part of Isobel the main character’s writing. It’s no small feat to create a story within a story and allow multiple plots to follow a parallel path of building tension. And, to top off the novel, the author includes several of her shorter pieces (novellas perhaps?). She identifies them as flash fiction, but some might argue that they’re a little too long to be flash fiction. These plots are just as telling as the novel, and just as engaging for the reader.

Grant Leishman

A Spark of Romance (Romantic Encounters Book 3) by Paulett Golden is a Regency romance set around the end of the eighteenth century. Alistair Trowbridge has returned to England from India, where he has been a senior manager for the great British East India Company. It is time for Alistair to claim a bride and begin married life. When Alistair and his intended betrothed, chosen by the two families, discover they are not compatible he decides not to press his suit. The woman’s good friend, however, Isobel Lambeth, captures Alistair’s heart and he turns his attention to her. Isobel, an aspiring Gothic novelist, had long given up thoughts of love and marriage, preferring to indulge in these passions only through her written fantasies. Alistair must first greet his father, who returned to England many years ago, leaving Alistair and his Persian mother to forge on alone. He must convince his father, who is now a Deputy Chairman of the company, of his intention to resign, marry Isobel, and take up residence as an English gentleman. Mystery and skeletons in the closet, however, lurk in Alexander Trowbridge’s Tudor mansion. Will true love overcome all the odds?

A Spark of Romance is a light-hearted and fun read. Author Paulett Golden has captured the manners and sensibilities of the era. Alistair Trowbridge is a wonderful character, with his mixed parentage and having a foot in two very distinct cultures. With his late mother’s greatest wish that Alistair become a true English gentleman, he is still torn between the seemingly inane sensibilities of English manners and courtship rituals and his flaming passion for Isobel, the woman who owns his heart. I particularly appreciated Isobel's feelings as a well-educated, intelligent, and extremely capable young woman whose future lay not so much in her talents but in her ability to marry into the right family. Isobel and several of her friends were well-read and also writers, who ultimately wrote only for their pleasure because they would never be taken seriously in the publishing world. This is a testament to the difficulty women of that period had in achieving anything outside the normal expectations for women of the time. The story flows beautifully as one secret after another is slowly revealed. There is also a collection of flash fiction at the end of the book, which is a joy in itself. I particularly enjoyed Miss Connelly Misses the Valentine Ball. However, all the stories are quick, easy, and fun to read, with satisfying conclusions. I loved this book and can highly recommend it.

Emma Megan

A Spark of Romance by Paullett Golden is a delightful historical romance perfect for rainy days. Isobel Lambeth, a talented writer, and her suitor, Alistair Trowbridge, a wealthy and powerful settlement governor in India, have known each other for one month. Alistair courted Isobel for two weeks but hasn't married her yet. He is determined to court her as long as it takes to please her English rules. Alistair is ready to embark on a new path. He wishes to create the man he wants to become—an English gentleman with his empire and Isobel's hero. But first, he has to see his father and ask for his approval and support. Thus, he takes Isobel with him to Reading, west of London, to present his plans for the future to his father and introduce Isobel. Soon, Isobel encounters a strange woman and believes that Alistair's father is hiding something. She now has to discover the truth.

A Spark of Romance is a gripping Gothic satire akin to Northanger Abbey. It is the third book in the Romantic Encounters series and comes with twelve wonderful bonus flash fiction stories at the end. Paullett Golden expertly weaves together themes of multicultural relationships, family, courage, independence, the pursuit of true love, heroism, and integrity. This enchanting and lighthearted novel contains lovable, complex characters, amazing illustrations, adventure, suspense, and romance. I am extremely impressed with the author's writing style and how this story unfolded. Anyone who enjoys touching, clean, and sweet stories with multicultural couples, strong happily ever afters, mystery, and some supernatural thrills should read this book. It will surely touch every reader's heart.

Priya Mathew

Set in Devonshire in the late 18th century, A Spark of Romance by Paullett Golden revolves around Ms. Isobel Lambeth, a writer who pens tales of heroes and daring rescues, and Mr. Alistair Trowbridge, her suitor, an English gentleman with mixed origins who works for the East India Company. Their relationship grows as they navigate their courtship, blending English traditions with Alistair’s Persian endearments and customs. Hoping to come to an agreement with his father about his future, despite their strained relationship, Alistair invites Isobel and their mutual friends, the Owens, to his father’s estate in Reading. While on this visit, Isobel comes across a locked door, the key to which could make or break the budding relationship. Will Alistair be the knight that Isobel is looking for? Will they uncover the secret that lies behind the secret door?

The third book in the Romantic Encounters series, A Spark of Romance follows as an offshoot of the story in book 2, A Touch of Romance. Although this could be read as a standalone, it might be better to start from the first one to get a better understanding of the characters. Since this was the first book I’ve read in this series, it took me a while to be introduced to the characters and their eccentricities. The narrative begins at a leisurely pace but picks up momentum. I loved the playful interactions between the characters and the skillful way Paullett Golden made dreams and reality intertwine. However, I must say that I loved the 12 flash stories at the end. They were like unexpected desserts at the end of a meal, each story exploring themes of second chances or serendipitous connections that sparked a romance. I wouldn’t mind revisiting these. Paullett has done her research on the era she presents, and you can feel it in the descriptions of the mannerisms, architecture, and customs. The pencil drawings at the start of each story also added to the overall appeal of the book.