One thing that’s really common nowadays is for authors to reissue professionally published books once the rights have reverted. This book was originally published by Dell in 1994 and well… I expected better.
I would have expected an author like Christina Skye to understand the importance of pacing, showing and not telling, and the importance of setting up characters before breaking them. But that didn’t happen here. Now maybe because this is a second book in a series we are supposed to already know the characters, but as a new reader all I got was a heap ton of info dump and not much that reeled me in.
That’s going to be the theme of this review. I expected better.
When India Delamere lost her love, and secret husband, Devlyn Carlisle at the Battle of Waterloo, she vows that won’t love again. Her older brother and sister-in-law convince her to put herself out there again. So with great reluctance, she rejoins society. Only to find out Devlyn isn’t really dead he just has amnesia and can’t remember anything… including her…. we’ll get back to that later.
What follows is a whole lot of hate-sex and random crap. Honestly at this point I was skimming going “WHERE IS THE REAL STORY!!!”
I expected better.
Ready for the spoilers?
So it turns out that Devlyn doesn’t really have amnesia. He’s on a super-sekrit mission for the Duke of Wellington to find spies and root out traitors. To do that, he and his identical stranger stand-in have to pretend that he has amnesia. Unfortunately he didn’t plan on India showing up and in order to SAVE HER FROM EVIL!!! he must lie to her and send her away FOR HER OWN GOOD!!!
On Paper, India sounds like a great heroine, but she’s a broken shell at the start of the book who broods and mopes better than Angel from Buffy. I was sick of that 20 years ago.
Then we get to the hero who is completely unlikable. In my mind, he didn’t deserve India and nothing that happened changed that view. Seriously I hate controlling heroes who know what’s best for the heroine and Devlyn was. I’ll give some leeway for historical… but that’s some. This book took that leeway and then ran with it until the line snapped.
The biggest problem with this book is that it started in the complete wrong spot. For the most part, you need to have whole characters at the beginning of a story, then break them, then fix them. This is especially true in the case of secret marriages.
We needed to have a reason to care, show the characters happy before putting them through the conflict. Oh sure, we got told it in a seemingly endless number of flashbacks, but it didn’t have the same impact. It was infodump.
So so much infodump!
The overall story line was predictable. I could point out each and every beat and knew what trope was going to happen next. It was formulaic. Too formulaic. Hey, I get it. This was published in the 90s. Formulas were a thing. A big thing.
But that’s not an excuse. Not when Jude Devereaux and Bertrice Small were bucking the trends.
There’s also the problem with the research. Regency is the one time period you can’t fuck with. The readers know their shit and they expect certain things. You can’t start your ball with a waltz or use the wrong kinds of clothing without enraging a whole slew of the readership.
There is some good in here. The side characters, especially the grandmother, were interesting. And the editing was spot on.
But because I got bored and then got annoyed, it only gets Two Stars.
You can get this on Amazon for $3.99 if you want to subject yourself to this.
Like our reviews? Buy us a ko-fi!