Till Next We Meet

By: Karen Ranney

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When Adam Moncrief, Colonel of the Highland Scots Fusiliers, sees Harry Dunnan, one of his officers, refusing to answer a letter his wife wrote to him, Adam takes it upon himself to send a response. It's the start of a forbidden correspondence in which Adam begins to fall for the woman who thinks her husband is writing to her. When Harry dies, Adam sends one last letter informing her of his demise, but as the months pass, he still can't stop thinking of her. When he unexpectedly inherits the title of duke, he must return to Scotland to take up that mantle, but first he stops in to visit the woman he cannot forget. However, what he finds isn't the vibrant person he'd been corresponding with, but one who is wracked by grief and deeply under the influence of laudanum. When it appears that she's overdosed and her staff aren't properly caring for her, Adam sets about doing what he must to revive her. After his actions compromise her, he agrees to marry her in hopes of protecting her, but he isn't sure if the woman he fell in love with through her beautiful letters will ever resurface. And if she ever finds out about his deception, he isn't sure what she might do.

After a whirlwind courtship, Catherine Dunnan married Harry, only to have him join the army one month later. She cared for her husband, but didn't truly fall in love with him until he started writing to her, so when news of his death arrived, she was devastated. Months later, after overdosing on laudanum, Catherine awakens to find herself married to a duke who is a stranger to her. He seems to think she was attempting suicide, but she knows she didn't and doesn't know how she managed to take too much of the drug. In any case, she reluctantly accompanies Adam to his castle, where she asks for time to come to terms with all that's happened. At first, it's an uncomfortable situation, but the more she gets to know Adam, the more attracted to him she becomes, which leaves her feeling like she's betraying her first husband's memory. However, when the truth about Harry's vices comes out, it's she who feels betrayed. But a nefarious person who appears to be out to get her may get their wish before she can express her feelings to Adam.


Till Next We Meet is a stand-alone, Georgian historical romance that takes place in the Scottish lowlands following the Seven Years War between Great Britain and France. Our hero, Adam Moncrief, served as a colonel in Canada during the war, where he was in command of Harry Dunnan. Harry received letters from his young wife, Catherine, which he refused to answer. Feeling that she was owned something, Moncrief took it upon himself to answer the letters for Harry, and thus began a lengthy correspondence between the two with him writing under the guise of her husband and them falling in love through their missives. Then Harry died, leaving Moncrief with the duty of writing a condolence letter as himself, the last one he sends to her. When Moncrief unexpectedly inherits a Dukedom after the untimely death of his brother, he resigns his commission to return home, but on his way there, he decides to look in on Catherine to see how she's doing, only to find her deeply grieving and under the influence of laudanum. On his second visit to see her, Moncrief finds Catherine nearly dead of a laudanum overdose and sets about reviving her, which leads to a shotgun marriage after the vicar finds out that in doing so Moncrief compromised her. When she awakens, she's not entirely happy about the situation, but capitulates, traveling with her new husband to his castle. There, they must get to know one another in person with her grief and the guilt of his deception hanging over their relationship. But it seems that there is also someone who is out to get Catherine and perhaps the laudanum overdose was neither an accident nor a suicide attempt.

Catherine became enamored of Harry almost immediately upon meeting him, not knowing that he was only looking for a wealthy heiress to marry to fund his gambling habit. She was happy with him for a month, but then Harry developed wanderlust so her father bought him a commission in the army. Really missing him after he went away, she wrote to him and received beautiful letters in return that she hadn't known Harry was capable of writing (of course, not realizing that it wasn't him at all), and fell even more in love with him through their correspondence. But then she received word that he'd died and she went into a deep grief. She started taking what she thought were measured doses of laudanum to help her sleep, but she's very much under the influence of the drug when she first meets Moncrief with him later finding her nearly dead of an overdose. When she finally awakens to find herself married to him, she doesn't remember any of it, but swears that she wasn't trying to kill herself, an assertion that he doesn't entirely believe at first. Although Catherine finds it uncomfortable to be wed to a stranger, she doesn't fight it, instead willingly going with him to his castle, but asking for a month to make peace with it all before consummating their union. During that time, she finds herself more and more attracted to Moncrief and feeling like she's betraying the memory of her dead husband. However, when the truth of Harry's nature comes out, she's the one who instead feels betrayed, but if she learns that her new husband is the one who really wrote the letters, it could spell doom for her burgeoning feelings for him.

I found Catherine to be a very likable heroine. Although her father was a wealthy landowner, which made her an equally wealthy heiress when he died, she didn't grow up with all the lush trappings of the aristocracy. She's a very approachable woman who treats her servants with kindness and respect. Even though she's confused by her feelings for Moncrief when they start to surface, she doesn't really fight them. And once she experiences the pleasures of love-making (something she didn't have with Harry), she embraces it and finds herself falling for him more and more. She also trusts him when he tells her the truth about Harry and was smart enough to figure out the rest by herself.

As the second son of a duke, Moncrief (I don't recall anyone, not even Catherine, ever calling him by Adam, his Christian name) bought a commission in the army and ended up as Colonel of the Highland Scots Fusiliers. It was during their service together that he met Harry, a man he never liked much because of all his vices. When Catherine first writes to Harry, Moncrief encourages Harry to write back, but he refuses and tells Moncrief to do it. So he does, thinking only to give her the courtesy of one letter from her errant husband, but then more letters from her arrive. He finds himself drawn to her missives, and since no one is writing to him, he's lonely and can't resist writing back over and over, falling more in love with her with each one. When Harry dies, Moncrief writes what he believes will be his last letter to Catherine informing her of her husband's demise. But when he's called home after the death of his brother to take up the dukedom, he simply must stop in to check on her. On his first visit, she's very unkempt and clearly drugged, as well as deeply grieving. Then he returns to find she's overdosed. Since her servants don't seem to be doing anything about it, he jumps into action, trying to revive her by putting her in a cold bath, after which the vicar takes issue, forcing him to marry her. Already in love with her, Moncrief doesn't find it to be a hardship to do so, but when Catherine fully awakens, still seeming depressed and unable to stop talking about her dead husband, he worries she may never be the woman he fell for through her lovely letters. He knows he should tell her the truth about being the one who answered her missives, but at first, thinking she'd just attempted suicide, he fears what she might do. The longer he keeps the truth from her though, the more he worries what she'll think, and then after another "accident" that he realizes was anything but, he must focus on keeping her safe.

I completely understood why Moncrief was so tempted to write back to Catherine and then keep writing her. Since he was a far better man than Harry ever was, it didn't bother me at all that he was corresponding with and falling for another man's wife. He also had good reasons for keeping the truth from Catherine when they first met as well, but it left him feeling guilty and also like he was fighting the ghost of a man who was really himself. Moncrief was every bit the imperious commanding officer, and now duke, taking charge of situations as needed, which is how he ended up in Catherine's bedroom after she overdosed, leading to their hasty wedding. However, he was a patient man who understood that not only was she still grieving Harry, even though he didn't deserve her devotion, but she was also thrust into a new marriage with someone who she thought was a complete stranger and needed time to adjust. Once they consummate their union, Moncrief is a very attentive lover who gives her all the pleasure Harry denied her, and it's in those moments that he becomes more vulnerable, expressing his feelings with his body and becoming even more enamored with her. I also like that he was smart enough to figure out someone was trying to harm Catherine and did his best to protect her.

Till Next We Meet is very much a low-key, slow-burn kind of romance. At first I wasn't feeling a strong connection between Moncrief and Catherine because she's still grieving for someone who didn't really exist, when in reality the man she really fell for is right in front of her but she doesn't know it. This put a little distance between them, but happily the author did create some moments for touches of romance and lust that helped to start building the connection I craved. However, it's not until the full truth of Harry's character comes out that things really start to take off between them. The love scenes are sensual and full of promise, showing their feelings before they can articulate them, and I love how they both embrace those times together. The mystery perhaps could have been woven in a little more. Given Catherine's assertions that she didn't intend to overdose nor wanted to die, I wondered right from the beginning if someone was trying to harm her. Once she goes with Moncrief to his castle it's pretty much forgotten until another "accident" occurs. Even still, I wasn't entirely sure who it might be or why until the reveal, and the denouement of that part of the story had some pretty decent suspense. Till Next We Meet wasn't quite perfect but I did find it to be an enjoyable read. It was my first book by Karen Ranney, who I was saddened to find out passed away in 2020, but it looks like she has a pretty extensive back list that I look forward to checking out.


Karen Ranney @ GoodReads


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