Like most who read romance, I crave the happy ending. The best romance novels make the journey to the happy ending a difficult one, fraught with conflict and seemingly impossible barriers. Heather Snow’s Sweet Madness is one of those best romance novels. Not only is the premise fresh and unique, including a 19th century woman who seeks to study mental illness, but the characters are so complex, flawed, and emotionally scarred that they feel flesh and blood real. Challenges, both external and internal, are many. Their journey from unrequited attraction to two people who need each other and finally to a couple that loves with the kind of emotion that only trials can inspire is both sweet and heart-wrenching. Sweet Madness is utterly refreshing in highlighting a love that grows based on need and compassion, as much as attraction and desire. This novel celebrates the healing power of love, even for those with the deepest of wounds.
After tragically losing her husband, Penelope Bridgeman devotes herself to the study of mental maladies. When a friend, Gabriel Devereaux, the Marquess of Bromwich, is institutionalized and begins showing signs of madness, she accepts his family’s request to visit him and, if she can, help him to heal. She is unprepared for how much she comes to care about Gabriel, though Gabriel is unwilling to let himself enter into a relationship for which he believes himself unworthy.
Ever since her husband’s sudden and tragic death, Lady Penelope Bridgeman has committed herself to studying the maladies of the mind, particularly the trauma of soldiers of the Napoleonic Wars. It is this expertise that brings the Marquess of Bromwich’s family to her door.
Gabriel Devereaux’s unexpected and unpredictable episodes are unlike any Penelope has studied. The once proud soldier has been left shaken and withdrawn, but Penelope manages to build a fragile trust between them. Strangely, Gabriel seems completely lucid when not in the grips of his mania, and during the calm bouts between, she is surprised by how much she is drawn to him.
Despite his own growing feelings, Gabriel knows that he is fit for no one and is determined to keep Penelope away from his descent into madness. But even though she knows firsthand the folly of loving a broken man, Penelope cannot stop herself from trying to save him, no matter the cost.