Lovers’ Knot, Donald Hardy’s beautifully rendered and entertaining historical romance, is set in Cornwall, England, in 1892 and 1906. It artfully relates the story of Londoner Jonathan Williams, who returns to Trevaglan Farm, a place of sorrow and dark secrets, for the first time in fourteen years to claim the farm as its heir. Accompanying Jonathan is handsome Alayne Langsford-Knight, who is Jonathan’s easygoing friend and housemate. Using multiple viewpoints and alternating chapters, Hardy gradually reveals the story of Jonathan’s first summer at the farm, when he was a troubled young man. There Jonathan found peace, healing and, eventually, love with a local farmhand named Nat, only to have their relationship come to a tragic end.
Now in his early thirties, Jonathan dreads revisiting his past. Indeed, he has every right to be fearful, for once he and Alayne arrive in rural Cornwall, Jonathan is met not only with kindness but also with the contempt and hatred of a woman bent on revenge. Secret pacts from that lost summer are revealed, and in the shadows, Jonathan sees ghostly apparitions. In the meanwhile, against a backdrop dripping with atmosphere, amongst a cast of finely drawn characters, Jonathan and the lighter-hearted Alayne (who is reading Henry James ghost stories and is deliciously spooked by them) resist declaring their love for one another, each fearing rejection, humiliation or, perhaps, even worse, the loss of the other man’s friendship. Is it unfair to say that, finally, love conquers all? Lovers’ Knot is a real find, and I hope to see more novels from this gifted author. Very highly recommended.