About five to six years back, I bought a bunch of “classic” aka popular/former bestseller romance novels at my local used bookstore (and by bunch, I mean around twenty to thirty of them in one go) and have barely touched them since because I am a raccoon who is only attracted to shiny things. Pulled this one out of my TBR Jar, though, early in January, and it did feel nice to finally get around to it. And it was fine! Utterly normal, nothing surprising. It also didn’t really pull me in emotionally. Something about the plot, the characters, the writing style, was fine but not compelling. It didn’t get me in my swooners, but it was nice.
The basic set-up here is that Colonel Aidan Bedwyn witnesses the death of a fellow soldier at the Battle of Toulouse, right before Napoleon surrendered, and the man (who saved Aidan’s live two years previous) ekes a death bed promise out of him to take care of his sister, no matter what. Aidan takes this promise seriously, and when he returns home to England he finds that she is days away from being forced out her home by a cousin who is set to inherit, unless (and wait for it) she gets married. It reads as a lot more convoluted in this summary than it does in the book, which is a point in the book’s favor. Eve Morris is a kindhearted daughter of a Welsh coal miner who married the daughter of the man who owned the mine, and then used that fortune to make even more money. The Morris’s are wealthy and have their own estate, but they are still bourgeois. It is Eve’s ambitious, social climber dead father who has put her in the position of marrying or losing her own inheritance.
The two leads worked well together, and there were standout moments where I really felt for them, but overall, their courtship felt very staid and laid back, despite being set against the backdrop of England’s celebrations in Napoleon’s defeat, Aidan’s family forcing Eve to learn how to behave like an aristocrat (which she pushes back against), and both of them pretending they don’t want their marriage of convenience to be an actual marriage. (There was a slight bit of that troublesome trope where if they would both just tell the other they want to actually give it a go, instead of assuming the other’s feelings, the whole book would have been pointless.)
I’m not sure if I will be continuing with the series. I probably won’t. There are a lot more and better romances that will probably do more for me than this author’s tame and sort of outdated approach.