“What on earth did you say to him? And what did he say back? I’ve spent the last twenty minutes trying to get a straight answer out of him.”
“Miss Crane, do you even speak German?” Jason asked, surprised.”Of course I speak German,” she said, affronted.
“Really?” Jason asked coolly. “Which dialect?”
She opened her mouth and closed it, like a fish. “At least I can read German very well.” And then, after a moment, “Renaissance German.”
Jason rolled his eyes but firmly withheld from giving in to his great desire to hang his head in his hands.
And so commences the adventure that changes the lives of both the protagonists. Winn is a woman of ambition—as Jason later says—who is on a mission to prove herself to the Historical Society. Jason, in the midst of trying to do “what comes next” (aka get married), stumbles into helping her along the way. He didn’t ask to come along in the beginning—indeed, he was quite furious to find himself in that situation—but he soon found himself enjoying the adventure, and spending time with Winn.
I’ve only read one book by Kate Noble before. It was The Summer of You, and Jason was featured heavily in that book. Unfortunately, he was not nearly the charming creature we saw gracing these pages. He was immature, spoiled, and rather whiny. With that memory of him, I wasn’t quite sure how I’d like a whole book devoted to him. Surprisingly, I loved this one even more than the last. Jason was completely unlike his past self, although I’m pleased the author didn’t ignore his past behavior and brought it up a couple times.
I love the style Noble writes in. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking of Loretta Chase. They both have an informal, friendly way of telling a story with fun characters and clever turns of phrase. The friendly asides told to the reader, and the almost madcap nature of the situations Jason and Winn found themselves in, had me utterly charmed. I smiled through most of the book and sighed happily through the rest.
This book was not intensely sexual or seductive, but it was completely romantic. The slow nature of the romance between Winn and Jason was perfectly played. They took no special notice of each other’s charms in the beginning, but slowly, as their friendship deepened, they started to see each other in another light.
“Where the hell had his brain been? It was the ale, he decided. Strong Bavarian beer, the undoing of better men than he, had clouded his brain and had him thinking things he shouldn’t. That, combined with the hard labor he had performed for hours that afternoon, had weakened his resolve. After all, it was very hard to think of Winn as a little sparrow who he could tuck under his arm and who needed his help and protection (whether she admitted it or not) when taking far too much notice of her breasts.”
The emphasis on the smallest of touches and the lingering eye contact between them was so lovely. We got to watch the characters get to know each other slowly over the book, without any intrusive forced attraction thrown in too soon. The slow development made it so that by the time you got to the sex scenes, you couldn’t imagine them not being together. I finished this book confident in the fact that Jason and Winn fit like two puzzle pieces, and that no one else in the world would have made them as happy as they were together.
I found Jason the more open of the two, but I could understand Winn’s resistance to letting herself get attached. They both were almost passive characters in their own life, but Jason’s was by his own choosing while Winn’s was purely involuntary. Jason’s changes through the book are more apparent and happen earlier because he doesn’t run in terror from entanglement. He wasn’t looking for love (even though he was committed to marrying), but he didn’t fight it when he fell into it. Winn’s fall was a little rougher, but I actually appreciated the change of pace from the usual romance.
The only real complaint I had was the inclusion of Sarah in the plot. I honestly couldn’t see how she added to the story at all. The entanglement she became involved in at the end seemed rather off-key to the rest of the story. Some might say that it was included to illustrate Jason’s descent back into passivity, but I would argue that there were many other ways to show this, and they all probably would have felt more natural to the man he had become than that. To be quite blunt, she seemed to be included only as a lame way of introducing the next book’s main lead. If she hadn’t played that part in the plot my grade would have been a straight 5.
“She giggled–Winn Crane giggled! Like the coquettish child she hadn’t known how to be, and for the briefest of moments, Jason was completely certain his heart had stopped beating. Just a second, frozen still the world around them lost, and the only thing that occupied it was Winn’s happy, girlish laugh.
So. This is trouble, he thought, his body slowly catching up to the rest of life. Slowly drifting down into someone’s laugh, until you realize you’re stuck.”