Reviewed by Mandi
It’s sad to say, but I find it hard to find historical author voices I like these days. I have a small, select few I turn to. This blurb caught my attention though, and I thought what the heck. I knew from about page two this author’s voice would appeal to me. It’s smart, somber, totally engaged me through every page with great suspense and a lovely romance.
Now to babble for a while.
Sophie Roe lost her parents when she was a young teenager and her grief will never leave her. She gets placed with her aunt and uncle in the village of Padley near Derbyshire and eventually becomes engaged to a childhood friend name Julian. He is sexy and smart but without a penny to his name. Seventh in line to become duke, he doubts he will ever see that title. But he loves Sophie fiercely. Sophie has quite an inheritance from her parents, but after her uncle and his close friend Clive the Ninth (the current duke) tell her that her money is unable to transfer to her, she is devastated and throws a tantrum. Before I continue let me tell you that Sophie is an amazing ink maker. Her ink is used by the Foreign Office and many other people. She is in demand for this ink, and it has given her a purpose in life after her parents death. When she learns her money is gone, she breaks an ink pot, and a shard cuts her face. Julian rushes in to help her and then rushes out to get medical attention. Soon after, someone enters and smashes her face into the spilled ink, forever tattooing a black scar on her face. Who could have done this heinous crime?
In an odd matter of fate, Julian does end up inheriting the duke title. Sophie never spoke to him after the day of her injury, thinking him the guilty party. He has become bitter and angry, and all things fun in a romance hero. Julian becomes alarmed when he learns the previous duke took his own life with poison, admitting it in a letter. But when Julian reads the letter, he knows immediately, the letter was not written by the duke – but by Sophie. He knows she is an expert in forgery and he knows Sophie wrote the note. But why? Did she kill him? Is she hiding something sinister? On top of the rich suspense, Julian bombards back into Sophie’s life, and things get all messed up…. and Sophie definitely doesn’t like things messy.
It’s hard to find anything I didn’t like about this book. We have a hero and heroine who were deeply in love, then tragically separated, only to be forced back together . The previous duke treated Sophie as a daughter, holding her in such high regard, and her with him. The mystery surrounding his death, the poison, the suicide, and Sophie’s role in all of it, is laid out so nicely. Little by little, we learn more of the past, and get tidbits as to who could have the motive to kill the duke, including himself.
We have a heroine who is scarred. Feeling self-conscious, Sophie doesn’t like to stand out in public, rather just stay in the shadows. She is a very hard worker, making a prominent name for herself in the ink business. She supports herself in a climate in Britain that is frowned upon women working. On the outside she is all brave. But the grief of her parents dying has never left her. Sophie has a self proclaimed bad memory. She has a very hard time recalling details of her day, so she has gotten into the habit of keeping a daily journal. She doesn’t remember all the details of her parent’s marriage, but as a way to deal with not having them in her life anymore she writes letters addressed to her from her parents. She forges her parents handwriting, and then will open the letters and read them (having written them herself). It’s a way to make her feel more connected to them – I found this such a vulnerable side to Sophie. I felt pained every time she wrote and later opened a letter. Her sadness truly came through and gave her such a complex side.
Sophie’s road to reunite romantically with Julian is a tough one. She fell for him because of his beauty, but learns to love him because of his character. But learning that character and learning not to take it for granted is a slow journey. Julian’s fierce, never-ending support of Sophie is swoon-worthy. He would literally do anything to make her happy and keep her safe. He throws tantrums himself and it’s all very tormented-hero thing to do. I adored him.
The mystery worked out so well and the romance follows. Such a satisfying romance read. I’m going to go back and read the first book by Erin Satie and then wait for her next one out this January.