The Unfortunate Son by Constance Leeds is historical fiction, with a fair amount of action and adventure. Note: I'm going to describe the whole plot here -- I don't think this story would be diminished by reading a spoilery review, but if you're sensitive about that sort of thing, you may want to skip to the final paragraph. I won't be offended.
Unfortunately, Luc is born
with only one ear. He grows up as the son of a cruel and bitter olive
grower. Fortunately, Luc finds his way to the home of Pons, Mattie, and
the lovely Beatrice, who welcome him with warmth and kindness.
Unfortunately, Luc is captured by Saracen pirates one day, and is taken
as a slave to northern Africa. Fortunately, he catches the eye of a
scholarly gentleman, who takes him in and treats him well, even teaching
him to read. Unfortunately, the old gentleman is nearing the end of his
life. Fortunately, Beatrice is determined never to give up hope of
Luc's return. Unfortunately, she is the daughter of a disgraced nobleman
who was killed before her very eyes by Count de Muguet. Fortunately,
the old count is now dead, and his son is a more kind and just man. He
takes an interest in Beatrice, restoring her to her father's lands when
he discovers that her father was killed unjustly -- and he takes up the
search for Luc, since it means so much to her. Unfortunately, it's not
an easy thing to find a slave in northern Africa, even one with just one
ear . . . especially if the slave's master does not want the slave to
be found. Fortunately, Luc eventually hears of the search for him. He
has promised to stay with his master until the end of the master's life,
but when the man dies, Luc returns to Beatrice, Pons, and Mattie.
There, he discovers that the cruel olive grower was not his biological
father: Luc was the second son of Count Muguet, sent away because the
count could not bear to raise a son with such an obvious physical
imperfection. Now Luc and Beatrice are together once again, both
returned to their proper positions. Luc's life has been full of ups and
downs . . . but does that really make him The Unfortunate Son?
liked this book, but I didn't love it. The dialogue seemed a little
stilted, to me -- a stylistic choice that might not bother other
readers. There is also some ambiguity at the story's end, and I found
myself wishing for more concrete answers about certain characters and
relationships. I also felt a sense of distance between myself as the
reader, and the characters in the story. I never really connected
emotionally with any of them. Again, this could be more my fault than
the fault of the book . . . so if the plot sounds intriguing, I would
encourage you to pick it up and give it a try!
(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)