omance warms and charms The hallmark of romance well told is the strong heroine who takes on the greatest of challenges in her quest for lasting love. But that heroine's strength may have powerful repercussions for the generations of women who follow her, as it does for the descendants of Charlotte Brent in Legacy of Love. Written by Joanna Trollope under the name Caroline Harvey, Legacy of Love is family saga at its page-turning best.

The novel begins in 1841 in Richmond, England, where Charlotte Brent is gripped by "romantic notions," according to her Mamma. Those notions propel the strong-willed Charlotte and her sister, Emily, from their stultifying lives in England to the exotic and dangerous realm of colonialism and conflict in Afghanistan. Charlotte's marriage to Hugh Connell barely slows her quest for adventure.

Charlotte finds her soulmate in Alexander Bewick, an adventurer who tries to warn the English garrison that they cannot trust their Afghan allies. When they must all flee for their lives, Charlotte faces compelling choices between love and honor, recklessness and duty. Emily's role as chronicler will lead to future generations' understanding of their larger-than-life grandparents' love story.

Granddaughter Alexandra is almost overwhelmed by the force of that Legacy of Love, until she leaves her parents to live with her great aunt Emily in Cornwall. Reclusive artist Michael Swinton's career is reborn at the turn of the 20th century by painting Alexandra. By painting her as he sees her, and giving her the space to see and understand herself, Michael risks what choices she will make. Growing confidence in her ability to live independently gives Alexandra the courage to reach out for what she wants most.

For Cara, World War II should mean reliving the grand adventures of her great-grandmother Charlotte. Heir to Charlotte's bold adventurous nature, Cara chafes at the boring regimen of rural life. Tempted by the dashing Alan Langley, challenged by his brother Stephen, Cara must face setting aside her childish selfish whims for the true values of womanhood.

Legacy of Love is a powerful blend of adventure and introspection as three generations of women outgrow girlish notions for the enduring power of love.

Sandy Huseby writes and reviews at fireside in Fargo or in a hammock under the northern Minnesota pines.

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