I don’t have the skills to impress upon the page the level of joy I felt when I saw that Joanna Chambers was back with a historical romance, all I can say is that the joy was substantial. Joanna’s Enlightenment Series is one of my absolute favorites. Her writing just works for me. Her novels are exquisitely set, they always have pointed commentary on the issues of the time, and most importantly her love stories are gorgeous to read.
“A Gathering Storm” is exactly the kind of novel I have come to expect from JC, smart, well researched, and with a solid and lovely romance. But, before I get to the review, I’ll share the recipe!
What could I make for this story? A historical sent in Britain…Scones, of course! I love me a good scone and I don’t think I’ve read a novel by Joanna that does not feature a delicious scone at some point, so I thought it would be fitting. So, I made savory Wild Ramps (wild ramps are a wild spring onion that grows here in the Northeast, it is also know as wild leek in some places) and Gruyere scones to go with this book, and I know I am biased, but they are to die for. Delicious, crumbly and the subtle garlic/onion taste of the ramps with the Gruyere is just YUM. I made a double batch and it they did not last through the day…
Now the book…As I said before I think Joanna Chambers is one of the best historical romance writers out there. What I loved about this story, in particular, is that she gives us two heroes with a lot of insecurities and a bit of callousness, but who are so genuine in their search for ways to be good to each other. I love a story where people are just people, you know? Most of us would like to think that in the face of certain circumstances, true love or adversity, we will be our better selves, but the reality is that most times, we are just our human selves. That does not mean we are not truly questing to be the best we can be for the one we love.
So Ward and Nick…Ward is fixated on finding a way to gain some connection to his dead brother, even when it comes at the cost of his own reputation. He is adrift without his brother and losing the one person who made him feel known. Nick has never belonged anywhere, his mother, the only person who he had a real connection to is now gone, an he is also adrift. Finding each other gives both Nick and Ward a place to be anchored. And yet, they are so different, their birth and stations in life are so distant from each other.
One of the things I love about this novel, is that is does not sugarcoat the disparity between Nick and Ward. They were born to very different circumstances, and this has shaped their worldview. Nick is guarded and cautious, because he knows a man like him is at the mercy of the will of those who have a higher station than him. Ward expects the world to bend to his will. Yet, they can still fill the empty spaces in each other. What made this novel so good for me, was how true the emotions felt. It was almost like that supernatural plane that Ward was so preoccupied with was always there for him to find, he just had to fall in love.
Lots to love here, the happy ending is locked tight, the erotica is solid and the book will read again very nicely I reckon…So, get the book and make some scones!
For the recipe:
Wild Ramps and Gruyere Scones (Adapted from Not Derby Pie Blog)
1 3/4 cup flour, plus some extra for rolling
1 tablespoon & 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup Shredded Gruyere
1/4 cup chopped ramps (or very finely chopped chives)
3/4 cup heavy cream, plus 2 tablespoons for brushing scones
1/4 cup buttermilk
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add the butter. Put bowl in freezer for 5 minutes to chill the flour. Then beat the mixture on low speed if using a mixer) until the butter is broken up into pebble-sized pieces, about 3 minutes.
Add the cheese and ramps. Then pour heavy cream and buttermilk into the bowl and mix just until dough comes together. Scone dough can be very sticky, so make sure you have a well floured surface to knead. Don’t knead too long, just enough to get the dough into a ball. Mold the dough into one or two disks, and refrigerate about 2 hours or stick in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375. Roll out disk on lightly floured surface to form one 7-inch round or two 3-4-inch rounds. Cut 12 slices from the large round or 6 wedges from each of the smaller rounds, and arrange on a baking sheet (no need to leave much room between the scones). Brush with cream (this will aid the browning process).
Bake about 20 minutes, until golden on top and browned on the bottom. Serve warm with some butter, I also had a bit of ramp pesto at hand and it was delicious.
Enjoy the book and the scones! Come back and let me know how they turned out!
You can buy “A Gathering Storm” HERE.
You can read about, and buy Joanne Chambers back list HERE.
Cheers and Happy Reading!