Reviewed for Kindles & Wine
Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
*Please note: This was a DNF*
I can see that Jo Beverley is an accomplished author and has written a ton of books and most (if not all) of those are historical romances. I love historical romance. I have no idea why I didn't enjoy this book. It sounds like it would be right up my alley but it just wasn't.
First, I guess I didn't really connect with the characters. I thought the heroine, Claris, was absolutely unlikeable. I've read books that have a happy spinster for the heroine and enjoyed them and Claris is definitely happy with her spinsterhood. She sees no reason to marry and has no desire to do so. I like those kinds of female characters, ones who feel no compulsion to align themselves with a man just for convenience's sake. I guess I found Claris to be a little bit ridiculous and contradictory. Pulling a pistol on a man who hasn't insulted you in any way? Even for a crazy spinster, that would be pushing it and Claris is not crazy and she's barely a spinster! I also found her to be entirely too argumentative. If something can be misconstrued or taken the wrong way, Claris immediately jumps to any possible negative meaning. It was exhausting and, quite frankly, a little boring.
Claris' intended, Perry, wasn't as bad but I spent most of time feeling sorry for him. I liked him well enough because he seemed a nice enough guy but he was entirely overshadowed by Claris and her gloomy opinions. I made it about halfway through the book so its possible that there is more of a focus on Perry later on. I really feel it should have been sooner though because Claris is absolutely no fun to read. It may actually be the reason that I had to quit this book so soon.
Claris' grandmother, Athena, and her grandmother's companion, Ellie were characters that had plenty of time in the story but I felt that they didn't add much. I really didn't care for Athena or her attitude at any point in the story. There is some allusion to Athena being highborn and possibly living in higher style but I never found out if that was the case. To be honest, I didn't like her enough to care. On the up side, Claris' little brothers were adorable and I thoroughly enjoyed any scene they were in. But, like Perry, there wasn't enough of them and they weren't enough to pull me back in to the story.
Second, there was an overabundance of description and internal monologue. I understand that we need to get to know these characters to care about what happens to them and the way to do that is to get into their heads. But I just felt like the story was dragging on and on. I mean, I think there was 2 or 3 pages dedicated to Claris thinking about tea and how her mother had trained her to perform a tea service. I was about to pull my hair out. When the family moves to Perriam Manor, I was glad to get a feeling of what it looked like but after a while it started to feel like an endless discussion about how gloomy all the ivy covering the manor's walls and windows made the interior of the house! I couldn't believe how ecstatic I was when Claris, Perry and what seemed to be the rest of the town, came over to tear down the ivy!! Save me from getting excited over yard work! LOL!
Lastly, I'm not sure what the term is but I felt like saying, "What's the point of all this?!" I didn't really see what the author was trying to get me to feel or experience. I was distracted by the language the characters used and the way they spoke. Yes, its set in the late 1700's and I've read books from this time frame before but I had a hard time getting over the language. You know how, in that time, sentence structure was different... like, "Getting on well, are you?" You see how it's sort of backwards from how we speak now? Usually, I can automatically translate that but in this book, I couldn't. I don't know if it was how much it was used or what but it made my brain hurt!
I could go on and illustrate more examples of what I did or didn't like but I think you get the point. Since this author has such an extensive back list, I'm sure to try something else she's written. I think this book just wasn't for me. The characters felt flat and uninteresting and it didn't seem like there was much more going on. I wouldn't recommend this book if you're new to this author; I would suggest choosing something else or possibly a book from earlier in the Malloren series (this is #13).