I bought and read this book in the hopes I will be as delighted and entranced with it as with Laura Kinsale's other book called "Flowers From The Storm" which is one of my personal favourites when it comes to historical romances.
I will not go to great lengths in explaining why I find this book so bad, I will simply make small notes of things that bothered me the most and I will say right now that I do not recommend this book. I have read many historical romance novels and trust me when I say that life is way to short to be wasting it on such a mediocre/bad read.
1. Title is completely misleading. Lessons in French are only mentioned once or twice and are never really explained or at least once revisited in a form of a remembrance. Such a shame, I was really looking forward to it.
2. Characters have no built-up chemistry. They are placed in this book as we are supposed to immediately feel all the (non-existent) passion bursting between them. Well, tough, my dear author. This is not how things work in romances. You can't just literally say, 'They always loved each other', and expect us to take your word for it.
3. On that note, all their so-called passion from their past (when they were 17) is never really explained well, we only have a few memories given to us that are so vague and so badly portrayed I am surprised she even managed to finish this book.
*possible spoiler under number 4*
4. Inconsistency. The storyline is screwed up to unbelievable proportions. Main male character's story is still not clear to me. First he is supposedly in France rebuilding his fortune, then he is fighting for Napoleon, then he is captured and spends the rest of the war time as a prisoner in Belgium and at the end the heroine says to him: "But you never left England, did you". What. The. Hell. Oh, and let me just add that all that I have mentioned keeps changing, his story keeps on changing every time he talks about his past. So unnecessary. Instead of building up their intimacy, you're just driving them further away by making up all those different details as you go along. I should have never bought this book.
5. Heroine keeps on making up stupid unnecessary scenarios when talking to other people. Now she is a pirate then she is a damsel in distress and so on and so on and she imagines what she would do if she really were and it goes on for paragraphs and paragraphs. What could that possibly add to the story but make the reader bored out of his/her mind. I mean, use common sense.
6. Why do you keep trying to make the heroine look ugly. I mean really. We got it. She didn't have to say for the one thousand and fifty seventh time that she is ugly and stupid. First one thousand times was quite enough whereas I am concerned. And saying she is as beautiful as hay, is really not a compliment at all. I mean, really? Really?
7. First world problems. Heroine's main concern in life is that she won't live with her cattle when her sister gets married. Wow, just wow. That is really all I am going to say.
*possible spoilers under numbers 8,9 and 10*
8. Hero's hate towards heroine's father. I mean, he keeps talking like he would kill the man if he was still alive just because he defended his daughter's honour when finding him practically naked with her. This really isn't the old times behaviour, my father would have done the very same. Her father did nothing more to him and yet he has supposedly (maybe, I really don't know if he ever left England in the end) fled the country in shame and because of her father. What the hell, author? You really could have added a little bit of realism there and at least say he threatened to kill him or something. This makes no sense. Who would buy that stupidity?
9. Was she a virgin or not. At the beginning of the book, it's almost clear she is not by everything she recollects and how she behaves. Then in the middle we are really and I mean REALLY not sure is she is or isn't she because the author seems just as confused as we are. Towards the end we do however find out the truth and also the truth about a hero in this particular matter, which I must say is even more INCREDIBLE and RIDICULOUS and would never ever happen, especially not with him thinking she is long married.
10. The unnecessary complication. At one point hero, out of the blue without any prior build-up, suddenly suspects there is something wrong with heroine's promised money. Why you might ask? Well, just because. That's why. And they keep talking as in 'oh, boy, what could it possibly be' and then in just a few short sentences hero breaks into her cousin's office, checks everything out and it's all good and that's it. What in the name of all that is holy was that necessary to suffer through? Was the novel too short by any chance so you just thrown in half-thought-through stories and expected it would go unnoticed? For the love of...
Anyways, I have more remarks, I really do... but no strength or desire to waste my time on this book that is not worthy of it at all.
If you must read something from this author, re-read "Flowers From The Storm", that is the best advice I can give you right now.