Pub Date: November 7, 2013
FTC: Review copy courtesy of the publisher via Netgalley
This wouldn't have been half bad if every plot device ever used in a historical romance wasn't crammed in here. I liked the characters a lot, but the writing itself was riddled with cliches and tired scenarios.
You have the not-so-secret-crush. The woman-dressed-as-a-man smuggler. The spies. The amnesiac. The trouble on the road home. Your token strumpet. It's like the author threw every possible twist into a Bingo tumbler and wrote what she pulled out at random. Any one of those would have been fine, but to this experienced reader, it was all a bit over the top. I'll suspend my disbelief for one of them. But altogether? Nope. (Please click on the review title to continue reading.)
There's still a lot to like here, though. There are basically three plot lines: the main romance, the secondary character/sibling romance, and the international spy/intrigue plot. Of the three, I honestly found the [spoiler!] brother's story line the most compelling. I wish this book were about him.
While there were problems with the plot, especially the way the three distinct stories were handled, the biggest issue with the book is the writing itself. I'm pretty forgiving when it comes to most writing problems. My grammar is atrocious, and I am not a novelist. When I pick on something, it's because it's REALLY noticeable. If it interferes with the reading, I will mention it. And there's a lot to mention here.
"[...]it was if he'd touched a live flame."
"Flames lanced through her as if she'd been hit by lightning."
"a softness in his eyes that hadn't been there before."
"Sinking down onto a chair, he groaned. 'Oh, God. What have I done?'"
There are so many more, but at some point I stopped highlighting them. My eyes hurt from all of the eye rolling I did while reading this book. At times, it felt like I was reading a parody of a romance novel because it borrowed from some of the most cliched phrases, scenes, and literary set pieces I've read over the years.
If you aren't a picky reader, though, you might still enjoy this one. The author has potential. I just think her writing needs some refining to bring out a truly distinctive voice—and a picky editor to make her toss those very, very annoying cliches.
My Grade: C-
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