January 28, 2014
Definition of "plain" - simple, ordinary, unadorned, unembellished, unornamented, unostentatious, unfussy, basic, modest, unsophisticated - unless you are a heroine in a romance novel.
It's been awhile since I've read a Liz Carlyle. I loved her earlier books. A Woman of Virtue is one of my all-time favorite books. However, the last few books I have been unable to finish
She is plain you see, except in the eyes of the guy who lost his memory. In his eyes, the beauty from within is shining through, making her alabaster skin just glow and her swan-like neck bend softly. (You know, swans have pretty skinny necks.) Anyway, turns out that the girl with the lackluster brown hair and brown eyes isn't really plain after all. Who'd have thunk it.
Anyway, what we have here is a heroine who is strong, smart, mature and sort of the one who is the head of her family. Even though she is a woman, she has inherited her family's title. She is the Baroness d'Allenay in her own right. For all of you historically accurate people, it was/is possible for a woman to inherit in some families. In this case her inheritance also included large amounts of debt, her father and brother both being gamblers and wastrels. So, she doesn't think too highly of gambling dens. Yipes! Just wait till Edward recovers his memory.
I enjoyed the first part of this story very much. I liked Edward's struggle with his amnesia, wanting Kate and all the time suspecting that he's not a nice guy. I liked how these two talked to each other; they had great dialog and they became friends, then lovers. Then he regains his memory and the story took a turn. Now, it didn't take a turn because he regained his memory, but because her mother comes to town. Her mother, bigger than life, always plotting, always has a lover, always bringing some pretty shady "friends" with her. I think this is where Ms. Carlyle lost me. I would have much preferred to see Edward and Kate's romance played out with just the added conflict of his regaining his memory. Edward had more than enough baggage to make for a good story without any outside conflict interfering.
I also could have done without the "not good enough" boo-hooing that Edward developed after he regained his memory. It went on just a little too long. The other issue I had was when Kate jumped to the wrong conclusion about something based on gossip from a third party. That jumping didn't fit into the Kate persona we come to know in the first part of the book.
Overall, I liked Kate and Edward, especially in the first part of the book. The secondary characters are well-developed, and I even thought the sly mother was interesting. It's just the first part of the book and the second part of the book didn't blend together very well. Because of that, I cannot give this story as high of a mark as I would have liked, even with a most endearing couple.
Time/Place: Late 1840s England