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THE VISION OF DESIRE, Margaret Pedler (1921)
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Ann is sojourning in Switzerland as the companion of a rich older woman when an accident strands her overnight with her childhood friend (and would-be suitor) Tom. This mishap will have unforeseen consequences for her future...
Moving into a sleepy English town with her brother Robin, she is surprised to find that her brother's employer is none other than Eliot Coventry, a mysterious and mercurial man who she met in Switzerland. While she is drawn to Eliot, she is also being courted by Brett Forrester, a charismatic and handsome man who will stop at nothing to get what he wants - and he wants Ann. Eliot and Ann's engagement is almost aborted when a chance bunch of heliotrope reminds Eliot of Cora, the woman who broke his heart and ruined his trust in women when she married another man after getting engaged to him, and who has become a close friend to Ann. Cora manages to help them reconcile, only for Brett to tell Eliot about the night Ann and Tom spent alone together. Eliot and the whole town believes the worst of Ann. Eliot breaks of their engagement and goes abroad, where he meets Tom, who tell him the truth of the innocence of that night. Eliot and Ann get back together, and it seems all is well...until Ann stops Tony was killing himself over his mounting gambling debts. Who does he owe money to? Brett, of course. Brett puts into motion his last plan to force Ann to marry him, inviting her alone to his yacht, where he promises he will give back the bills he holds on Tony. After failing to convince Ann to let her go instead, Cora fakes a note from Brett and goes onto the yacht. Brett refuses to take the money, but Eliot has snuck onto the yacht, sending a note to 'Ann' telling her he trusts her. So Brett gives up, Cora is absolved of her guilt for ruining his life, and Ann and Eliot live happily every after.

This was my second book by Margaret Pedler, and I enjoyed it as much as the first. There were a lot of similarities: Sweet heroine, in love with an older, mysterious man with mood swings, who is haunted by some secret in his past. I enjoyed the ending of this one a lot more than the other. The themes were trust, guilt and absolution. The meaning of love is not possession, or possessions, but trust. It sounds like a melodramatic soap opera in the summary, but it was
very nicely written.


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