Okay, so let me start by saying that I read this book as a stand alone, I didn't read the first book in the series because frankly I had no idea it was a series, the print in my country did not suggest that in any way. So when I finished the book and had trouble understanding what is up with that ghost, that disappearing pirate and the baby who receives presents and none of it was adequately explained at the end, I knew there must be a prequel, sequel, spin-off, anything, otherwise all of that makes no bloody sense whatsoever.
Lady Hero is engaged to be married to a Marquis of Mandeville. Marriage was arranged by her brother, the Duke of Wakefield and Hero is satisfied with her brother's choice. She sees some good qualities in the Marquis and she knows the marriage will benefit her brother.
But of course, she then meets his elusive brother, Griffin. Lord Griffin is apparently a womaniser, a Cambridge dropout and altogether a shady character. And she falls in love with him. Although the writer tells us he is not as good looking as his brother the Marquis, Griffin is much more human I would say, he is emotional, passionate, he is witty and he has a good heart. Whereas the Marquis is very cold, calculated and boring.
Hero and Griffin fall in love and they have to face their families and some other life's circumstances if they ever hope to be together.
I am a sucker for historical romance, yes I am. Even though I don't read it all the time, if I see a book with a hint of this genre anywhere I will pick it up. It's that girly side of me which is a rarity. But I openly admit it.
However, this book just felt like it lacked something. The pacing was off, at first the story dragged then it rushed then meaninglessly dragged again to have an abrupt rushed ending.
Don't get me wrong, it was entertaining but not the best of its genre, that is for sure. And I am saying that while removing all the elements I didn't quite understand like the ghost, the pirate and the girl. I am saying this purely focusing on the main plot and that is a love story between our two main characters.
There were also parts of the story that made no freaking sense to me. Like this one, Lord Griffin had to do something to save his family of his father's debt so he started producing gin illegally to make money and because the piece of land that was given to him couldn't be used to produce crops or to grow anything because it was too far up north... and it was Griffin's job to save the family from debt because he had a good sense for business and he was smart and knew his way around... YET ! It never ever occurred to him to not grow anything on that barren land but to get plenty of sheep and sell or turn their wool into clothes. Like all of his neighbours were doing on that land. It never ever occurred to him why everyone has sheep *facepalms*.
And there are plenty of moments like that where characters are made stupid just to serve the plot. In other occasions they are smart and resourceful which is why it makes no sense for them to be so stupid in the plot-serving occasions. Please, dear author, don't think your readers are stupid, don't underestimate your audience in the future.
My serious dislikes.
1. Using underhanded means to force someone to say 'I love you'. Sometimes it works with the right characters when you know they are both experienced, wicked, sassy etc. but with a character like Lady Hero who was a virgin and was always a proper shy gullible lady her whole life it feels like bullying. This really put me off.
"“Griffin, please,” she whispered.
“Do you want me?” he asked.
“Yes!” She tossed her head restlessly. She’d explode if he didn’t give her release soon.
“Do you need me?” He kissed her nipple too gently.
“Please, please, please.”
“Do you love me?”
And somehow, despite her extremis, she saw the gaping hole of the trap. She peered up at him blindly in the dark. She couldn’t see his face, his expression.
“Griffin,” she sighed hopelessly.
“You can’t say it, can you?” he whispered. “Can’t admit it either.”"
And after that he proceeds to talk to her like to a wh$re, and I mean it, look it up, he keeps saying how he'll stick it in her because that's all she wants from men etc.
2. After they finally get rid of the gin business and decide to go into legal wool business they make children from the orphanage to work for them. I know, I know, it wasn't that odd in those days but come on, throughout the whole book we are made to believe that Lady Hero is a true humanitarian, an angel for those little orphans and then when she finds a husband, she just says okay, we have free workforce and we'll use them as much as we can. Just doesn't feel right, especially not with her character.
I think that the author, Elizabeth Hoyt, does know how to write a compelling story. I think that she is talented and has a knack for a historic romance genre. I am not sure what exactly went wrong here. Did she think that the readers of historical romance are all not as smart or not into details or they just want a forbidden romance with the rest of the story just barely making any sense... I truly don't know. Maybe it's just me, and I can only speak for myself, but I feel like the author underestimated me as a reader and underestimated my intelligence. If I see this kind of writing from this author in the future too, I will know for sure but for now I can only hope it was just in this one instance.