So here's a big thank you to the ladies over at Romance Reviews Today for getting me the copy of this book! My review is posted on their blog, here.
Book 3 in The Burgundy Club series
There was a lot of good and a lot of not-so-good in this book. In an effort to end on a positive note, I’ll start with what I didn’t like after a brief plot summary. Celia Seaton has just been fired as a governess, and to make her day even worse, she’s now been kidnapped, forced to strip down to her chemise, and locked in a hot attic. But Celia is no quitter and neither is she a shy English miss – she makes a daring escape only to find the man who ruined her marriage prospects in London a few years ago, Tarquin Compton, unconscious on the floor of the cottage she was taken too. After reviving the man, who has no recollection of his past or identity, she decides to play a trick on him and invents a past for him – as well as a future for the two of them. Yes, the fictional ‘Terence Fish’ and Celia are engaged to be married – but first they must make their escape together!
What follows is a mystery that includes another kidnapping, a beautiful countess, a bitch of a duchess, a baby with a silver rattle, a mysterious ruby, and an on-again-off-again engagement. What didn’t I like about this book? I was bored. The suspense wasn’t built well and I could not feel the love or kinship developing between Tarquin and Celia. I had a hard time feeling any sincerity, anywhere, in this book. The characters didn’t have complexity or depth and I felt like I was running through water when trying to enjoy the writing. I couldn’t connect with any of the characters, felt their behavior often contradictory, didn’t feel the inner conflict/dialogue when there was any, and felt many of the characters to be completely stereotyped cookie-cutters, with nothing unique. Perhaps Neville’s writing style doesn’t work for me, but I found the book fairly dull and unromantic with characters that simply went through the motions of love and romance without any real feeling. To be honest, the entire book just felt flat and it made the HEA boring and a bit… unhappy for me.
What did I like about this book? I liked how unique it was. In the historical romance genre there are about ten commonly used plots, with small discrepancies that make those books slightly different from one another. Don’t get me wrong, I love those ten plots – but I love what Neville did even more. With a totally unique premise, what with the kidnapping and flirty little lies, I found that I was supremely pleased with the uniqueness of Neville’s ideas and imagination. I found the book’s plot to be refreshing and that definitely added to my interest of the book, so even as I was bored I wasn’t so bored as to stop reading entirely. All in all, this being the second Neville I tried and didn’t like, I probably won’t try another – I think my favored style of reading and her style of writing just don’t click The banter, I will admit, was very fun but the rest of the book simply couldn't hold my interest.
“Your home is in Cornwall. Near Falmouth, on the sea.” (Celia, telling ‘Terence’ about his family and past)
“A suitable location for a family of Fishes. Are we big Fist or little Fish?” (Tarquin)
“You told me your family is highly respected.”
“But the question is, how big is the pond in which we swim? And how many are in the shoal? Am I an orphan Fish? An only Fish? Do I have living parents or close relations?”
After Celia shows up in Tarquin’s room:
“You didn’t seem to mind. I came to tell you something and you just grabbed me.” (Celia)
“I was asleep. I had no idea what I was doing.” (Tarquin)
“If your valet came in while you slept would you pull him into bed with you?”
“Sexy”ness rating: Sexy, but includes words such as quim and pintle. Hm. Not as awkward as mons, but it comes close…
Overall Rating: C-
Bottom Line: If you like Neville’s work, you’ll like this one. I loved the unique plot, but overall the characters and romance fell very, very flat.
Published: July 26, 2011