This book was a very pleasant surprise and a reminder of why I keep taking chances with new authors. I don’t remember where I heard about Kelly Bowen, but I think she appeared on one of those “If you like ____, then you might like _____” lists. My library does not have any of her books, and they cost more than I am willing to pay for a new author. But, this little novella was only $1, so I decided to go for it.
Viola Hextall’s brother sends her from London to New York to keep her out of trouble. Viola is determined to marry a duke, any duke, and resents being on a ship with no dukes to be found – just sailors, her two chaperones, and Nathaniel Shaw, the ship’s surgeon. Nate is leaving England for the American West to escape all of the things that Viola wants – namely a man’s worth being tied to his birth. (Side note: I DARE you not to love about a commoner hero that is unapologetic about his status, has a job and is competent at it.)
This book falls in the middle of a series, and novellas are a notoriously difficult thing to get right. How much can really happen in 90 pages? After a couple conversations, kissing, helping Nate with a surgery, and sex, Viola changes her mind about being a duchess and decides to marry Nate and go to Missouri with him. This book definitely suffered for how quickly the relationship had to progress, but it gave an excellent example of the author’s abilities.
The characters were both believable and enjoyable to spend time with, and the banter was excellent. I will forgive a myriad of issues if an author gives good banter, but I didn’t find much to have to forgive here. My biggest problem really stemmed from how short the story was. I would have liked a fully fleshed out novel with these two that allowed their relationship to progress at a slower pace. I think novellas usually work when the characters already have a backstory and you are dropped into the middle of their story. That was not the case here, and Viola did a 180 a little too quickly for me. I’m going to keep my eye on Kelly Bowen and hope some of her full length novels go on sale eventually, because I think she may be a keeper.