Reviewed by May
“In my day, a young lady would never dream of addressing a gentleman in such a familiar manner. Why, I never called my husband by anything other than his title in all the years of our marriage, even in the most intimate of settings.”
Benedict’s shoulder brushed against Julia’s as he leaned close and whispered, “That was more than I needed to know about their marriage.”
The two St. Claire sisters could not be more different when it comes to matters of the heart. While Sophia has been in love with a man who hardly acknowledges her existence, Julia wants nothing to do with a love match. When the object of Sophia’s affection becomes intent on winning Julia and past scandals and secrets start to come to light both sisters wind up in circumstances they would never have imagined. Through a series of events both accidental and intentional, both sisters find themselves betrothed. Will they see the engagements through? Are they making the right choices? Will they find true love?
I found the writing in this book to be most engaging, and I believe with the right characters and story this author is one I could enjoy tremendously. While I did not feel that this book was well done, and I don’t have good things to say about it, I will tell you I had no fault with the writing. I would very much like to try another by this author, but a more focused story where we can get past superficial appearances and get to the heart of her characters.
In this book the problem I had was that despite the cover blurb stating that this is Julia’s story, it most certainly isn’t. Julia’s tale is a boring one. Her lifelong friend loves her, she loves him (though won’t admit it), and there is a threat to Julia’s freedom and her relationship with Benedict Revelstoke that ultimately brings them together. Julia claims to not want true love, she’s known for being icy to suitors, and yet why? I found her as a character to be inconsistent and unconvincing, not to mention a fickle girl. Benedict knows he loves her and wants to be with her but his actions didn’t line up with his thoughts. At least, I could not follow either character’s logic in their complicated dance around true love.
Sophia has the far more interesting tale, being caught with an Earl alone because she happened to faint. Sophia is completely in love with another man and the Earl has been alone for years, and yet there is an immediate tension, a very small glimmer of potential between the pair that had me interested and wanting them to return to the page immediately. There is a darkness, a history to Highgate and I would have liked to see their relationship and connection more deeply developed. Sophia really is a carefree girl open to love, Highgate being the opposite it would have been a nice contrast and a more interesting focus for the story.
Instead we continued to bounce back and forth between the sisters throughout the book, neither one having a clear lead. We are given the stories of two couples woven into one book that did not build each other up or work together to create a wonderful tale. They were not in sync, and the stories did not meld together in a way that was satisfying on any level.
The villain of the piece really didn’t make sense to me. His motivations and the way he went about things felt like it was obviously constructed simply to make the story work, and was not at all convincing to me. While his actions put everything into motion for this book I could never quite accept that all the drama was ultimately his doing or that he had such a strong influence over so many with his actions.
The bottom line is that this book didn’t work for me. While I liked the style of writing the book simply wasn’t long enough to go into depth on any of the characters enough to make it a strong novel and nothing about any part of the book was especially original, fresh, or interesting. For me it was just another regency romance among thousands that will not stand out in my memory.