Kindred Hearts by Rowan Speedwell is a sweeping novel; it follows the main character Tristan Northwood, an aristocratic young wastrel from his childhood to his marriage to his awakening realization that he is attracted to his wife’s brother, war hero Major Charles Mountjoy.
To everyone he meets Tristan is the epitome of a fine young lord, he’s wealthy, he’s handsome, and the world is his. In reality, Tristan has come to a tipping point in his life. He’s set certain things into motion that will change the lives of his wife Charlotte and young son, Jamie forever.
Tristan is a character in much pain. His tortured relationship with his father and his lack of anything useful to do with his life has left him floundering and flailing about in deep depression. Then, Tristan realizes that he is in love with his wife’s brother! What else can go wrong in his life? For Tristan, recognizing and accepting his feelings for Charles provokes a sea change.
Speedwell’s Kindred Hearts is a remarkable piece of fiction encompassing the horror of the Napoleonic Wars and battlefield medicine, as well as the complexity of English aristocracy unable find useful and honorable pursuits for sons not in the military or church. Speedwell peoples Kindred Hearts with a strong set of characters. Tristan is highly intelligent and under better circumstances might have become a fine surgeon. Charles is a soldier tired of killing and bent on making himself over into a physician that saves lives. Charlotte is perhaps the most fascinating character in the entire novel. Charlotte, although Tristan’s wife and Charles’ sister, acts as a matchmaker for the two of them. She is the one who facilitates their relationship. Charlotte does not love passionately, but she understands that some must love with passion. The story of Tristan and Charles is a grand story worth 5 stars.