I don’t think I was in the right mood for this, but I’m trying to get through some of my used-bookstore purchases before I allow myself to buy more. I think now might not be a great time for gothic romances – mostly I wanted to set fire to all the male characters. Even a spunky female heroine is still basically her husband’s property in a gothic/regency/whatever, and just UGH.
Our spunky heroine Eustacia grows up with a single mom who runs a gambling parlor out of her home, meaning she gets uninvited to her friends’ birthday parties because her mother is a loose woman. She despairs of ever finding a good match and avoiding falling into the same lifestyle her mother did, when suddenly Julian appears at the gambling parlor. He’s cute, he’s rich, he’s stylish, and Eustacia is smitten. Her mother gives her advice on feminine wiles, and they are married within the month.
Once at Dragonmeade, Julian’s ancestral home, things get bad quick. Turns out Eustacia’s mom straight-up blackmailed him into marrying her, ensuring that he lost at cards so much that he was forced to swap his debt for her daughter! Romance. So she’s stuck in this giant house with a mother-in-law who hates her, a husband who openly carries on an affair with the woman he was supposed to marry, and all sorts of creepy awful stuff.
There’s some intrigue, and some melodrama, and some fainting, and not nearly enough setting stupid men on fire. If reading about “a woman’s place is” anywhere but The Resistance makes you want to throw the book across the room, I invite you to join me in skipping gothic romances for a while!
Trigger warning: a rape and a miscarriage mysteriously end up at a happy ending, so this is not exactly a romp.