Friday, May 25, 2012
Avon Books, 2012
Source: Received an ARC from the Amazon Vine program in exchange for an honest review.
I was really nervous when I opened this book and saw the year 1632 listed as I had requested this under the impression that it was set during the Regency time period and I was really craving that. Happily this is only a prologue chapter that sets up the basic premise of this book (and the next two that will follow) and what a wallop it packed! See in 1632, Fenella's beloved daughter Rose handfasted with Charles Chattan; but he proved to be faithless, marrying an Englishwoman of title and power. For vengeance, Fenella curses his line that once a man falls in love, his death is imminent. He will father a son to carry on the curse but death will take him. And so it goes to the time of 1814 when our story proper begins.
The first character we meet is Thea Martin, a young widow and mother of two boys who had been disinherited by her duke father for marrying below her station. Now she scrapes by as a highly sought after matchmaker for the difficult cases of the ton. But she has never received a case so preposterous. Neal Chattan, Lord Lyon, wants her to find him a bride who he will not detest but with whom he will never fall in love. Complicating matters are Thea's own deep belief in the power of love as well as a youthful attraction between the two.
For his part, Neal grew up at a distance from his father, learning about the curse during the summer he met Thea and has tried to stay detached since. With his brother Harry and his sister Margaret, they have sworn to let the curse end with them. But Neal craves children and, although he doesn't want to admit it, he craves Thea. Thus enters their conflict. Her youthful marriage has left her scarred but still wanting to fall in love and be married. If he marries a woman he loves, he will father a child but die young.
I really liked the dance Neal and Thea went through as each pretended they were untouched by the other's presence especially because I as the reader got to see how much they loved each other. Both characters have strong senses of personal honor and are restrained, which tend to be my favorite characters as I feel I have similar attributes. It was easy to put myself in Thea's shoes despite our very different positions and that always makes me happy.
But what I probably found most interesting was how the story ends with Neal facing the first symptoms of the curse: a numbness on his left side. The group does not want to give up though so Harry is dispatched to search for Fenella. The next book is called Scottish Witch, due Fall 2012, making me think Harry might fall for one of Fenella's descendants, leading to another reason to end the curse as Chattan finally makes restitution for the wrong.
There is also a house party (I love Regency house parties), snobby leaders of the ton, adorable little kids, and plenty of threads for the future romances of Harry and Margaret with all of their flaws and virtues.
Overall: An intriguing curse premise hangs the entire trilogy together and I can't wait to read the next section!
Cover: Really not a fan of books where a model stares out at the reader but I still kind of like this especially with the gorgeous blue cover background.