Review: Move Heaven and Earth by Christina Dodd

Sylvan Miles is not your average woman. She has never met her father’s expectations. Ogden Miles is a merchant who bought himself a barony. He has worked relentlessly so that his family could hold their heads up in society. Sir Miles reminds Sylvan of this constantly. That and the fact that Sylvan hasn’t become the woman that her mother is. Sylvan’s mother is a whisper of a woman who depends on her husband to make every decision and never offers her opinion. Sylvan refuses to become what her mother has so she does everything she can to separate herself from her father. During the Napoleonic War, Sylvan traveled to Brussels to stay with her friend, the earl. She helped him entertain the English soldiers and she looses her reputation for it. When the battle came close to the manor, Sylvan helped to mend those that would survived and comforted those that wouldn’t be so lucky. Now, she is haunted by all the men who could have lived had she been skilled.

Rand Malkin served proudly in the war. He was the only survivor in his regiment and upon his return home, he could no longer walk. Rand spent months being poked and prodded by some of the most respected doctors in England. No one could explain Rand’s paralysis. He suffered no physical injuries so there isn’t an explanation. Rand becomes so surly in his condition that his older brother, Garth, Duke of Clairmont, finds a nurse who will hopefully be able to tame his temper.

When Sylvan arrives at Clairmont Court, she is informed that it is haunted. It is rumored that the first Duke of Clairmont still lingers in the halls. Old Radolf stays at Clairmont to ensure that his line continues. He lost so much to have a son he could pass the title to. Shortly after hearing the story, Sylvan is welcomed to Clairmont Court by a stool shattering one of the front windows swiftly followed by a loud temper tantrum. Sylvan and Rand have met before. Both had felt a special attraction when they danced in Brussels. After being caught in an intimate embrace, it is decided that they must marry. Sylvan must face her biggest fear and pray that her husband won’t be a domineering tyrant.

There is someone in Malkinhampstead who doesn’t approve of the mill that Garth has recently brought to the village. This becomes apparent after a few of the women who work at the mill are attacked and several small incidents occur when they shouldn’t. Everyone at Clairmont and in Malkinhampstead is on edge and sightings of the ghost of Clairmont are bringing an edge of hysteria to the tension. The family must solve this puzzle and quickly. Between Rand’s paralysis, the trouble at the mill and family differences Rand and Sylvan learn to trust and appreciate each other.

My Thoughts:
Move Heaven and Earth is a good historical romance but it is loaded with heavy topics. There were some high points but through much of the book there is one struggle or another. Sylvan is haunted by her past. She could never make her family happy and she believes that she hindered more than helped on the battlefield. At one point her guilt is almost overwhelming for the reader. I understood her guilt but at the same time I wanted to step into the book and shake her. Sylvan vilifies herself often and that starts to wear after awhile.

Rand and Sylvan’s relationship is like a mountain range. There are high points that make you feel so great because you made it there but then you plummet to the base of the mountain and have to start the climb all over again. I found myself glad that I was along for the ride though. As the reader we understand why things are happening and how the other characters are feeling and it was nice to watch them discover themselves. The secondary plot line regarding the mill didn’t overpower the romance but added to it. Up until the end there were three people who could have been the baddie and I liked that I didn’t have it figured out (well, not entirely, my gut knew but my head just wouldn’t agree)!

The ending was a good one and yeah, this softy teared up. It left one hopeful that all would be well with Clairmont Court. I would like to know what happened to all of the characters. The secondary characters really had a way of worming into your heart. Overall, Move Heaven and Earth might have had some flaws but the good far outweighed the bad. If you have read Dodd before and enjoy historicals you shouldn’t miss this one!

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