Forgotten and Remembered by Bree Wolf looked like it would tick all of my Regency/Pre-Regency boxes.
Not set in London during the Season? - Check
Brooding Hero? - Check
Unconventional Heroine? - Check
Hint of interesting side plot? - Check
So since it is permafree, I said why the hell not!
I should have asked the all important question:
But first! A little bit of what you’re getting into.
To provide a mother to his daughter, Graham Astor, The Duke of Kensington (because of course he’s a Duke), marries poor relation Rosabel and then promptly abandons her. Seriously. They meet. They get married. Then he disappears into the ether.
The first third of this book barely features the hero and is mostly about the mother-daughter bonding between Rosabel and Georgiana, the daughter. There’s a lot with Graham’s grandmother who fills the “cool old lady” trope. But sadly the author seems to forget she exists about halfway through the book.
Because the book would have been oodles better with Grandma Graham running around. There’s a lot of learning how to love and to love again as well as what defines a person as a parent. There’s also more flashbacks than you can shake a stick at.
About a third of the way in, I figured out the big “twist” and pretty much any reader of Charlotte Bronte should figure it out as well. I’m not spoiling anything… because the more I think about it, the more I think that this book was a very thin re-imagining of Jane Eyre.
And I like Jane Eyre. (Minus the locking of the previous wife in the attic - because that’s creepy, y’all.) Still, the moment my brain figured out the similarities, my enjoyment level went down. (As a note: the wife is dead in this one and I don’t feel bad about spoiling that because it’s not a spoiler.)
There were other problems with the book. Like the fact that the history was off. While the author states that she’s not even going to bother with the history in her giant author’s note on the Amazon page, that just smacks of laziness to me. I mean, if you’re going to write a historical romance, for fucks sake use the history. Or at least keep the historical domain characters out of it. If you want to have people dress up in pretty clothes and say anachronistic things - just do a time travel romance and call it good.
I have opinions.
So the book isn’t all bad. I appreciated a clean romance in the pre-Regency period. Regency is one of the few romance genres where a lack of sex isn’t a bad thing (Amish being another) and isn’t a dealbreaker. I liked the side characters… particularly the magically disappearing grandma and the “always there for a good smack on the head” duke’s best friend and former brother-in-law.
The big problem was that I didn’t like HOW the story was told and kept thinking of ways I would have fixed it. There were a lot of repeated beats and events and some were really confusing. There were oodles of flashbacks and one of my least favorite tropes, “the diary of exposition.” Events also occurred out of order so things didn’t make sense. Like the characters needed to bond earlier so Rosabel’s falling in love with him made sense. Also there were parts that moved too slowly, while other parts moved way too quickly. And while I don’t mind angst, there’s a point when there’s too much.
Essentially, the book needed a good editor and didn’t have one, but it’s not completely horrible and didn’t have me ranting for days on end.
So I’ll give it: Two Stars
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