by Alyssa Drake
When I was offered to review this book, I was a bit wary. My only attempt at historical romance had been “Outlander” and, for how amazingly written, it had been too distant from me to keep my interest. So I started this book with pretty low expectations, purely because of my own usual preferences, and instead ended up really liking it!
I instantly fell for Benjamin, the hero. He’s a “rake” and believe me when I say his seducing game is strong, but he’s also a gentleman. I especially liked how protective he was of Sam, and how jealous also he could be. Oh, and did I mention he’s like, the most eligible bachelor? Anyway, I had expected stuffy characters (because that was my idea of historical romances’ characters!) but Sam and Benjamin were relatable and fun together. Their banter and innuendos aren’t as in-your-face and blatant as the ones in contemporary romance, but I found the change refreshing. The subtler jabs and slighter teasing was definitely entertaining. Also, I’m a sucker for childhood friends and, even though Benjamin is older than Sam and he was rather her brother’s best friend, it transpires that they too had bonded a bit as kids. It warmed my heart.
Sam’s character was very well-shaped. She’s an independent woman who, after her brother’s death, has to be convinced to take a husband. Having grown up in the country, she’s not used to societal rules and etiquette. She’s down to earth and has a sharp tongue. I loved how Benjamin appreciated all these characteristics of hers, never trying to suppress her true personality.
The first part of the book focuses on the romance, while the mysterious part only picks up in the last section. It worked for me because it supplied me with enough Benjamin to be a happy reader. However, the identity of the murderer wasn’t a shocker. My money had been on that character since the very beginning.
The side characters were also highly enjoyable, from out-spoken, too-old-for-hypocrisy Aunt Abigail, to Queen Bee Alice Shirely and her poor ankle (*evil snicker*), to the three adorable nephews. It depicted an image of a past society that was way more characterized and “human” than what I would have expected, adding to my enjoyment.
All in all, it was a very pleasant surprise for me. It was lighthearted, fun, but also mysterious at times. Sam’s character was relatable and Benjamin was the perfect mix between a gentleman and a rake, impulse and control. The heat level wasn’t particularly high (the scenes are not very graphic), but it worked with the rest of the narration, so that I didn’t feel like I needed more steam.
What’s left to say? I’m looking forward to see how the story ends because we’re left on a damn cliffy!!!!