I love to read and I love to read Romance. Any kind of romance. Although, I always come back to Historical Romance. I'll also read Urban Fantasy, Historical Mysteries and Historical Fiction.
I did not find this an easy or always pleasant read. And I mean this in a good way mostly This is not a fluffy regency with a romancing hero and a sweet lovable heroine.
The way the hero and the heroine are being thrown together and basically blackmailed into marrying is not pretty. And the thing is, it never really gets pretty and takes a long time to even get bearable for them.
What that does it gives a lot of character insight. These two just don't get each other at all. Things are said and taken not in the intended way all the time. There is no magical understanding between them, no trust, no love. Heck, they don't even like each other.
So how do we go from all of that to a HEA? The hard way and I found a very interesting way.
The heroine is from humble upbringing, a teacher in a girl school. So we see her like a fish out of the water being thrown into the life of a Marques and his father the Duke. There are more details here about the running of such big houses. She notices things that are usually not commented on in historicals. This all helped so much in giving me a sense of the time. A sense of confusion of rules of society, some of the wastefulness.
I just got the sense of a lot of research going into this.
The hero is a bit hard to like, but then so is the heroine. They are so very different and it doesn't get just brushed under the rug once she is brought into the hero's world. That huge gulf that seems to be between them takes a lot of pain and work to get past. They don't "get" each other and they don't know each other. So every time they get a step closer, they tend to take 2 steps back the next moment. Its obvious early on that both have incredibly witty and educated minds and they find great joy bantering with each other. There are some of these dialogues that are amazing to read and its like watching tennis match.
There are some things in here that might totally turn off some readers. For one, the hero's mistress still plays a role even after he is engaged and then married. Not in a sexual way, but still. The other is the actions of the hero towards the heroine are at some point not very "hero" like. But I found in the context of the whole novel, it fit. And I usually don't like such actions in romance novels, but the author made it work within the story of the two. The hero does have quite a temper, which is always highlighted.
I do appreciate the author not going all PC when re-publishing this story.
This story has made me think.
I wouldn't read this if I needed a light and fluffy fairytale type romance novel. Everything in its time I say. I like to switch it up.