Review copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
I. Loved. This. Book. I think that this is the most unique and interesting historical romance that I've ever read. Ever!
First off, lets discuss characters. Mia Danvers, our heroine. I loved her. She's blind due to a childhood accident. That, in itself, is a new one for me. I don't think I've read any historical romances where the heroine has any kind of "disability". I wouldn't say that blindness is a disability and for sure, it isn't for Mia. I would say that its more of a bump in the road for her. She still lives a full and happy life but she has the benefit of not having to worry about what society thinks of her. Sure, it can be lonely at times, even though she has her governess turned friend, Rachel, by her side. But she's never been to a ball, never been courted by a man, never been kissed. On the other hand, she is an accomplished sculptress and people are actually buying her work! I don't think that there was one thing that I didn't like about Mia. She seemed very real to me, in every way. She was a little angry at her family for dumping her at the cottage so that they could go and continue on with their lives but it wasn't really anger... it was more sadness tempered with understanding. I didn't love that because I would be raising holy hell if I were her. But it was completely believable that she would be so forgiving to her awful mother and sisters because Mia is such a kind and forgiving person. She expects nothing from people and she's genuinely pleased when someone does something for her. For example, her mother fully intended to leave Mia at this cottage by herself, with the promise of a servant to come check on her once a day. Mia quietly agrees but Rachel puts her foot down and says that she will stay with Mia since they have no idea if this servant really will come or not. There is a discussion between Rachel and Mia's mother about how Rachel won't be paid and Rachel saying that she didn't care, etc. Mia feels absolutely guilty that Rachel won't have any income but she's happy that someone will be with her and she's happy that its her governess/best friend, Rachel. So, you see, Mia didn't ask for anyone to stay with her and was ok with being there on her own but she was still happy that Rachel insisted on staying, albeit guilty as well. To me, Mia (and Rachel) seemed like normal, real people who really came to life on the page.
The cottage that Mia and Rachel live in is on the edge of the Duke of Carrington's large estate. There is a new Duke since the previous one was killed in an illegal duel. The new Duke is Alex Foster and he doesn't love his new position. He was a military man and had never really planned to be the Duke. I loved Alex. I mean, sure, its easy to love a Duke, right? They're all rich and somehow they're all handsome and rather intelligent. So sure, it was easy to fall for him as our hero. He's all of those things and he's also got this really strong sense of commitment... no, that's not the right word. Well, when he says he'll do something, he does it and he does it to the best of his abilities. Like the Dukedom... he's inherited the title and somehow, it came with a fiancee. A perfect woman who will be a perfect Duchess. And trust me, the Carrington title needs a little perfection after all of the scandals the previous Dukes had been involved in! So even though Alex doesn't know this woman, he meets her and decides that although they don't have much in common, she seems a good and kind woman who is beautiful and who has been trained to be a Duchess and he could do much worse. He continues on with courting her, even though she was betrothed to his brother, the former Duke. Maybe it sounds harsh of me, but I loved that Alex would follow through on something that he didn't REALLY want just because it would be good for the Carrington name and because someone else had kind of pledged his title to her. Does that make any sense? He's just trying to do the right thing and I thought he was awesome for it!
Alex and Mia meet after she witnesses a murder next to the Carrington estate. She hears the whole thing happen and since she wasn't able to help the girl that was murdered, she figures the least she can do is help the police catch the villain. She goes to the main house to speak with the Duke and that's where they meet. Alex is kind of entranced by Mia. She's beautiful, of course, but she's kind and free thinking and has absolutely NO problem speaking her mind! Since that's pretty rare in London in the 1800's, Alex is taken aback at first but quickly comes to enjoy spending time with Mia. Mia has never had the attention of a man before and this is all new and exciting to her. Needless to say, sparks fly and neither one of them are the same! For a historical romance, this book was really hot! Whew! Who knew that kissing could be so steamy!?
I know I'm not doing this book any justice but trust me, its awesome. Mia is a great heroine. She lets nothing get in her way; not her blindness, not society, not convention. She's honest and straightforward and forgiving and kind. There's nothing to dislike about her. Alex is sexy and strong and he could learn a couple of things from Mia. I loved whenever these two were in a room together! Now, I was saving this for last but I said that Mia witnesses a murder, right? Well, the mystery of that murder is one of the central points of this book and its really great and super interesting. See, this book takes place right around 1888.... in London... do you see what I'm getting at?? YES! JACK THE FREAKIN RIPPER makes an appearance!! Holy crap!!! My god, I love this damn book!! Oh and Jacky Boy doesn't just make an appearance, he.... well, no I won't tell you. You NEED to read this book. The Sexy Time was great, there was humor and maybe possibly a tear or two and then the mystery! Gah! Too much awesomeness! I'm going to check out Robyn DeHart's other books since this one was so much fun!! I highly recommend The Secrets of Mia Danvers!!