That Young Person is one of the loveliest of Sara Seale’s romance novels, with a slow but believable build-up. Bride, 18, is young but very consistent and self-possessed, and a lovely girl. Simon, 36, is a decent and intelligent man, and it’s clear how he’s gradually falling for her.
The basic plot is that Irish girl Bride has come over to England as Simon’s nephew’s fiancée, to win over the family due to some (not legally very plausible) fiddle-faddle about inheritance. If the family approves of the marriage, nephew Kit gets to inherit, but if they don’t, he doesn’t.
Kit spends the entire book in Ireland, due to various mishaps. He’s looked after by Bride’s sister Mollie whom he falls in love with, but by the the time this happens we don’t mind, and nor does Bride. Because she’s fallen for Simon.
I did find it touching when Bride falls from the horse, and Simon finally vocalises his love:
She appeared very white and very small lying there with her eyes closed and her thin body had a crumpled look as if it had indeed been trampled under those wicked little hooves. He slipped an arm under her shoulders, raising her while he explored the back of her head with experienced fingers and could feel a lump already beginning to swell.
“Bride… my little love…” he murmured, gathering her close, and although his common sense assured him she was only momentarily knocked out, the possibility of a fractured skull or worse sent a chill down his spine.
The Other Woman, Audrey, is a rather half-hearted affair. She’s a long-ago ex of Simon’s – one of the well-breed but libido-free women that Seale likes to do – and she’s never particularly nasty nor any threat whatsoever. This was a bit of a relief, because while Other Women are fun, they do tend to turn the plot into a bit of a pantomime. And this is such a sweet and realistic story.
He eased her gently back on the pillows and felt her mouth warm and pliant under his as he stooped over her, then stood watching for a moment before he turned to go. He thought how small she looked in that vast bed with its mound of pillows and sombre drapes, and remembered with a smile those misplaced allusions to bridal chambers the day of her arrival. Yes, they could come later, those romantic trimmings which his own uncertainty had denied her… there would be time enough in which to slough that protective skin and explore the emotional needs which had lain dormant in him for too long…”