It's 1884, and Miss Lydia Boyce is eldest of three daughters in the Boyce family and is left assuming the unofficial role of head of the household, as her mother is long dead and her father, well known Egyptologist Henry Boyce, spends his time in Egypt as an artifacts dealer in order to fund his archaeological research there. Lydia is a learned scientist and scholar herself, supporting her father's research and funding in Regency England while also managing the household affairs that include being steward for her two younger sisters. Considered a spinster at 26 years old and after having been jilted by the man she loved when he ends up marrying her younger sister instead, Lydia has accepted, if not embraced, the fact at she will most likely remain unwed. Fortunately for her, she has her interests in science to keep her happily preoccupied.
Lord James Durham, the Viscount of Sanburne is a dilettante and a nuisance. He's a rich, spoiled, daft kind of fellow who pretty much spends all his time drinking and partying with his friends and doing whatever he can to anger and disgrace his father. James' father is the Earl of Mooreland and it is obvious to everyone that James is not only a disappointment to the Earl, but also a huge thorn in his side. Based on this brief character profile, James Durham doesn't sound like a very like-able character at all, yet there is an intelligence and kindness about him that makes the reader wonder if there are hidden reasons behind his behavior. Of course there are reasons and very real and severe reasons at that, and the author slowly reveals James' true character as he and Lydia get to know, understand, and inevitably love each other.
Lydia and James first cross paths when he so rudely interrupts and disrupts her presentation, at which she is trying to secure support and financial funding for her father's work. James barges into the auditorium, stealing Lydia's audience while drawing attention to his fantastic new archaeological find. James does this solely in a one-up-manship against his father, but in the end, his artifact is denounced as a fraud on the spot by none other than Lydia herself. This "confrontation" sets the tone of their relationship throughout the rest of the story in which they spend most of the time in each other's company verbally sparring with one another. It's not like they argue just to be antagonistic towards each other. It's more that they are often of differing opinions or perceptions of each other. Their frustration with trying to understand the other exacerbates the tension in their conversations and in their relationship as a whole.
When James confronts his supplier, he learns that fraudulent artifacts are being shipped from Egypt and in fact, the evidence indicates the source of the fakes to be Henry Boyce. Lydia is adamant about her father's integrity and sets out to prove his innocence at any cost. Lydia and James share information and resources as they try to uncover the truth about the source of the frauds. By the end of the story they do that, and so much more. Despite their near constant bickering when they are in each other's company, they are drawn to the excitement and level of intelligence and wit they share. Upon each meeting, Lydia and James not only develop a deeper understanding and respect for each other, but also for themselves.
The following passage is a great example of a typical exchange between Lydia and James. They learn so much about each other, yet still have this wall of understanding--or should I say misunderstanding-- between them that frustratingly doesn't break down.
"And if I asked about my own character? Oh, I know you've decided I'm paranoid. But would the scientist share with me her other observations?"
The curiosity in his voice seemed genuine. But why would he care what she thought of him? She ran an anxious finger over the door latch. [ . . . ]
"You're a butterfly," she said. "Aimless by nature, useless by choice, and highly decorative. Annoying, when you flap into someone's face."
To her irritation, he laughed. Surely there was no greater nuisance than a man who did not mind being insulted! What weapon could a woman employ against him?
"A butterfly? All right, Miss Boyce, well done. Yes, I rather like that. A butterfly, pinned in a very nice glass cage."
A few more stinging words between them and Lydia changes her analogy and says he's "not a butterfly, but a billiard ball. You crash about in the most aimless way--". James responds by acknowledging that, yes, Lydia clearly disapproves of him. When she's not kissing him, that is. It's quite an amusing and telling scene. Lydia speaks her mind, flinging several stinging, yet intelligent remarks his way, getting more and more ruffled by the minute, and while James does retaliate with a few biting remarks of his own, he maintains a calmness and amusement of Lydia that clearly shows his approval of her.
Bound By Your Touch is wonderfully written and the realistic, yet also very unique premise and characters were all very engaging. The development and treatment of the relationship between Miss Lydia Boyce and the Viscount James Sanburne was equally captivating and satisfying. Their conversations were often times amusing, sometimes moving and always intelligent. It was a joy to watch Lydia and James slowly come to understand each other, learn about themselves, teach other lessons on family, love, and forgiveness, and see that they are really more alike than not and that they indeed are a perfect match.
You can visit author Meredith Duran at her website http://meredithduran.com .
Meredith's next novel is Written On Your Skin and comes out on July 28, 2009.