February 15, 2017
"Your silvery beams will bring love dreams, we'll be cuddling soon,
By the silvery moon." Edward Madden, Gus Edwards - 1909
Seeing as how I read mostly historicals, it's been awhile since I've read a Maggie Robinson
book (2015 to be exact). Was the wait worth it? Sort of. While this book was decent, I had an overriding sense of agitation throughout the book. Try as I might I could not shake it. So, this agitation caused me not to enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. Let's examine this story.
Captain Lord Henry Challoner has returned from the Boar War with some issues. Physically, he was shot in the foot and lost hearing in one ear from being too close to a cannon. But he's suffering from some major psychological issues and has turned to alcohol, drugs, and women for the solution. Well, his controlling father has decided to put a stop to his son's actions and has him bundled off to a "rehabilitation center" for some "rest." That sentence is actually pretty gentle compared to what actually happens in the book. The place he is sent to is a small village in Cotswold called Puddling-on-the-Wold and while that may seem charming, it is anything but.
At some time during this village's past, it was decided by a "council" that they could make money catering to the "problems" of the wealthy. They take on one client at a time. The whole village transforms itself in order to fix the problem - whatever it may be. For instance, one of the village's previous clients was about to be married and had a weight problem. So the village closed anything to do with food, like the local bakery, and also restricted what the villagers could cook just in case the smell carried to the client. In Henry's case, alcohol vanished and nubile women were hidden away. He was also restricted as to where he could take his walks. It is during one of these walks when he decides to go a different way and stumbles across our heroine, Rachel.
Rachel is the local schoolteacher and she like everyone else in the village must abide by the rules. She seems to have had some problems with the "people who make the rules." And, now she is faced with the village's new client who isn't supposed to be anywhere near her. Another rule for which she will get in trouble. She doesn't want to break any more of the rules because she and her invalid father depend on the money the village rakes in. But she finds Henry to be irresistible from the beginning, so she knows she's in trouble.
There is a mix of humor and drama throughout the entire book. It should have been a pleasant read, but I had this nagging voice in my head all the way through. Our hero is 25 years old, and was a soldier for 6 years. He has his own financial independence, he is an adult. So, how come his father could just bundle him up and dump him in this village? I don't know the legal system of England in the late 1880s but I suspect for a father to do this to an adult male wouldn't be entirely lawful. Even if it was lawful, I would guess there would have to be some pretty fancy legal foot-work that would have had to be done by the father. So, this bothered me. But that wasn't the only thing. Even if I didn't question the legalities of this plotline set-up, I questioned why a 25-year-old alpha male would put up with being incarcerated in the village. This part of Henry's character weakened the story for me. While he may have whined about being there, he made no attempt to escape and I found it hard to accept that. There was a black cloud hanging over my head through the entire story - why wasn't Henry doing something about his situation?
There was also a "what the crap" moment. Let's set this up: Rachel is really quite attracted to Henry. She's allll tingly and her woman-parts are wet and throbbing all the time because of Henry. But, she knows she can't do anything about it because someone in the village might see them. So, what does she do to ease her suffering? Well, she goes outside, under the moonlight, in plain sight, and pleasures herself - loudly. Of course Henry stumbles across her doing this and his Timothy Toad becomes an erection set. Really! Outside! Under the bright moon! This was a very silly scene.
This is the first book in a series called Cotswold Confidential. I'm sorry to say that this story didn't work for me. I was toooo irritated with the way the hero was written to be able to relax and enjoy the story. He was an adult male, who was represented as being self-reliant, except he lets his father ship him off to this weird Twilight Zone village. I didn't get it.
Time/Place: England 1880s