Length: 346 pages (per Amazon)
Pub Date: November 2012
Publisher: Self published via CreateSpace
FTC: Purchased myself when it was on sale at Amazon
I couldn't tell you if I have ever read anything by Cheryl Holt before. If I did, it didn't stick with me. And, to be honest, this one won't either.
The historical trappings were very, very thin here. And I say that as someone who likes "wallpaper" romances. I love what is sometimes referred to as light historical: that funny, light-hearted take on the Late Georgian or Victorian periods in English history. But this story lacked depth. It lacked setting. The characters were interesting, although they had some issues, too. Basically, this is the cotton candy of novels. Fluffy, but dissolves upon consumption.
There isn't a single character here, except for the children, who act with anything resembling good sense. No, really. The kids are the most rational, adult characters in this book.
The villains in this story are the hero's mother and sister-in-law. And if they were men, they would be twirling their oversized mustaches and laughing maniacally. They start as one dimensional people and end as one dimension people.
Additionally, our hero, Jackson, is a scumbug. While the rake has a long tradition in romance, usually we see some reformation. Some 'aha' moment when he believably changes his ways. I didn't believe in Jackson's change one iota. He says all of the right things, but there is no reason why our heroine, predictably named Grace, should believe him.
I didn't believe in either romance in this book (Grace's sister gets a storyline, too). There was no depth to any of the interactions. No emotions explored. Which is probably why, despite the verbal exchanges between Grace and Jackson, I did not believe in their HEA.
There is some fun banter, but again...it doesn't feel historical. At all. And (reminder!) I'm not usually a nitpicker of historical details. So if I noticed it, it is BAD. The worst one was the use of "Seriously?" as an expression of disbelief. The closest example I found was in the Urban Dictionary as "disbelief in sarcastic form."
Yep. Urban. Dictionary. *sigh*
One of the offending sections:
"If you refused, she'd have you dragged away in chains."
This was definitely not my cuppa tea. By the end, I was hate-reading it like a reliably cheesy episode of the Bachelor. It's a parody of a romance novel. A farce. And I really can't recommend it.
My Grade: F
Jackson Scott has returned to England—after swearing he never would. A decade earlier, he fled to Egypt, seeking fame and fortune as an African adventurer. But his brother, the Earl of Milton, has died, and Jackson has been named guardian to the man’s young son. He’s chafing at the designation. He doesn’t want to assist his bumbling nephew, doesn’t want to deal with his scheming sister-in-law or domineering mother. Yet he can’t resist their incessant pull. When beautiful, alluring Grace Bennett arrives unexpectedly at Milton Abbey, she has a young boy with her who she claims is her ward. She tells a fantastical tale about Jackson’s brother. It’s the story of a secret wedding. Of a secret love child finally brought home where he belongs. Of one boy who isn’t the earl and one boy who is. Against his will, Jackson is attracted to Grace, and because he wants her so desperately, he can’t decide what is real, what is true. As their worlds collide and their ardor ignites, Jackson must separate fact from fiction, must learn the truth about Grace, despite where it might lead him. Enmeshed in a risky and clandestine affair, his passion for her grows, but so does the danger from those who would keep them apart.