Beth Ellen was very generous and let me read her library copy of this book even before she did. THAT is a good sister. This is my first full length book by this author. I really enjoyed her novella that takes place concurrently with this story. Between this book and that novella I’m adding her to my ‘must pick up from library or on sale’ list. There are very few authors these days whose books can command full price in from me.
Heath is a businessman (soapmaker – I feel like soapmakers are popping up left and right these days) who surprisingly inherited an earldom. Heath’s sisters have been courting scandal and he wants a quieter life, so he decides he needs to find a boring wife to help him achieve this. Josephine (Joss) is the younger sister of a duke (Heath’s best friend since childhood), and has been traveling the world studying languages for the last twenty years. Joss has returned home and is reacquainted with Heath, who she has adored her whole life. That same night Heath stumbles across a dying friend and promises to help him with protecting a secret. Joss swoops in and rescues Heath, and her gift for languages means that she is necessary to Heath’s unraveling the mystery. They spend the rest of the book investigating the mystery and carrying out a plot to save the secret from falling in to the wrong hands. (I just used the words ‘secret’ and ‘mystery’ too many times. I don’t want to give it away, but it is also not nearly as interesting as the vague language may lead you to believe).
Sometimes I don’t need to be ‘wowed’ by a book – I just have to enjoy it, and that’s how I would describe this reading experience – all around enjoyable.
- The pacing of the story was excellent.
- Both the hero and the heroine were really nice people and very pleasant to spend time with. They respected each other, and that little bit will always go a long way for me enjoying a story.
- Joss saves the day on multiple occasions. Heath is a bit of a beta hero, so if you don’t like that be forewarned. (I DO often like a beta hero, and Heath was no exception.)
- The secondary romance. I would like a story about them. It could overlap with this one and tell things from their points of view. I found both those characters very interesting.
- The villains were a little overtly evil and one dimensional, but they were only there to drive action in the story and didn’t affect the relationship.
- I wanted MORE. Tell me more about Joss’ travels around the world. Tell me more about Heath’s background. (This is the third book in the trilogy – there is a chance that some of these things are addressed in the earlier books.)
- I would have liked a little more smolder too. I think the older brother’s best friend trope (a personal favorite) often lends itself nicely to some good smolder. Some of the romantic moments were a little tepid.
- It was definitely not historically accurate. There is lots of alone time afforded to our leads. And an earl has exactly zero servants.
- The big mystery was kind of silly. Secret guilds and hidden treasure are hard to pull off.
On the balance, it looks like there are lots of problems with this book, but the were all things I was able to overlook in that ‘enjoyable read’ space. It will take more than a little time period incongruity to turn me off from pleasant characters.