It seems to be a characteristic of wise and experienced authors that they plan their book releases in advance. This includes collecting reviews before publishing by giving away free books. I came across such an opportunity and received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Since I am a conscientious person and plan to maybe review a book or two in the future, I did my best to read the book on time and give the already mentioned honest review.
Truth be told, I always tend to write nicer reviews than a book might deserve if I was cruelly honest. On the other hand, I know how hard it is to write a decent book and unless I am simply horrified by what I read, I find no reason to get upset over every slight inconsistency or every little detail that is not believable. Like the fact that an older woman from the 19th century manages to give birth to twins and actually stay alive. Having said this, I will proceed to review the book and try to avoid any further spoilers.
This is the first book I read from Sophie Barnes, but it won’t be the last – if I manage to go through a virtual pile of books stored in the memory of my e-book reader and find time to read another regency romance. As a fan of Jane Austen, I was interested in reading a historical romance from a similar period, and I wasn’t disappointed.
The main character, Wilhelmina, is a woman divorced, and much of the ensuing conflict in the book comes from the fact that in order for a divorce to take place, she needs to create a public image of herself that is essentially the direct opposite of the person she truly is. Mr. Dale, the main male protagonist, is a slightly self-righteous barrister coming from a wealthy family who is attracted to Wilhelmina from the moment they meet but is repulsed by her (fake) reputation. Expectedly, there is a lot they need to learn and discover about each other so that they could find their happy ending, and this experience changes them for the better (although, to be honest, they were both almost perfect to start with, they just didn’t know it).
The characters are wonderfully described and developed and I enjoyed reading this book and following their interaction. Also, the book is well written and perfectly plotted, with just the right amount of misfortune to make me root for the characters, but not enough to spoil anything.
This is maybe my only point of complaint. I understand that a happy end needs to be happy, but the sugar-coated ending was a bit too sweet for my taste. That and those twins. Maybe I’m just a wretched person deep inside, but what about pox, mumps, measles, diphtheria, pertussis, and the myriad of other horrible diseases that could have claimed the lives of one or all children as well as some of the grownups along the way? How about the hard realities of life? Sure, my heart melted with happiness that everything went well for everyone involved. But my head did not believe, and this spoiled it a bit for me.
Regarding the language – British characters in the book use “gotten” as the past participle of “get”, which I don’t think would be the case if they were speaking the same language as Jane Austen. I can understand the usage of American English in other novels, but in a historical romance maybe a bit more attention should be given to how the characters would really speak. This would enable me as a reader to become better emersed in the book and believe that something like the story described had really happened. Apart from that, other books from this series promise to be as charming and interesting as this one, and I hope I will get to read them as well.
My verdict: 4.5 * Well written and plotted, with a sugar coating that was a bit too thick for my taste.