Over my years of reading Historical Romance I have discovered that there are two kind of light books in the genre: The lighter, make me smile/feel good ones (like Loretta Chase), and the ones that are so light that they’re lacking in substance. I adore the first kind but I hate the second kind—unless I’m in a very rare mood. But sometimes it’s really hard to distinguish the two when you first pick up a book. That’s what makes reading the lighter/funnier HR’s such a crap shoot for me. Unfortunately, luck was not with me and this book turned out to be of the fluffy, cotton-candy persuasion. Not my type at all.
While reading, members of the Boscastle family kept popping up with mentions about their own past stories. What baffles me is that some of those past story details sound very familiar. Like Chloe and the way her future husband hid out in her room while everyone else thought he was dead. I think I must have read the original Boscastle series at some point, but I honestly don’t remember whether I liked them, what I thought about the stories and the writing style as a whole, or anything, really, other than a few stray details here and there. And that right there tells me that my reaction to this book is not a fluke. I have a very good recall for the stories I read and enjoy, and even some of the ones I loathe, so the fact that I remember nothing about those books is telling.
Charlotte is the headmistress for the Scarfield Academy for Young Ladies. In the beginning we are given the impression Charlotte is a bit uptight and that she disapproves of the hero, but we soon learn that Charlotte is actually titillated by the hero and that she has a whole imaginary life, filled with imaginary interactions between them, recorded in her diary. A rival headmistress hires someone to steal the diary, and through a series of events, the diary ends up being left in the carriage of the very duke Charlotte was writing about. He, of course, knows immediately that Charlotte was writing about him and finds himself intrigued by the passion running beneath her otherwise cool exterior. It’s not every day he finds a book detailing erotic encounters involving him that never actually happened. A harebrained scheme to recover the diary leads to Charlotte and Gideon being discovered in a compromising position and the diary being lost (again).
I really don’t have many positive things to say about the book, other than the fact that I was occasionally amused and that there wasn’t enough substance to it for me to muster the enthusiasm to care enough to hate it—which is what my F reviews are usually reserved for. I found the whole thing rather ridiculous; completely lacking in substance and any real historical feel. There was never any real relationship building. The heroine was always in love with the hero–for some reason that I’m still not sure of–and the hero followed easily in her wake with no real reason given for their feelings.
We didn’t get into the hero’s head very often, and what we did see of his past didn’t impress me much. I didn’t understand why his deadbeat dad ways were included in the story. His neglect of his daughter added nothing to the story, other than to make me dislike him. I could understand if the author was going to use it as a way to build character growth, but she didn’t. All of a sudden we’re just presented with the fact that the hero has a kid that he hasn’t seen for 10 months, and that he doesn’t see her much more than that usually. The heroine is exasperated with him for it, but that’s it. It’s treated in a cheerful manner that made me confused as to why it was even a part of the story.
The lack of relationship building made the romance between Charlotte and Gideon lack any spark. The love scenes were rather awkward and perfunctory, and I really could have used some sexual tension. Gideon and Charlotte felt weird and bland together, and the same is true for the interactions we saw between the side characters. Also, the buildup of the missing diary was resolved in a laughable manner that made me honestly wonder why I expected any better.
All in all, it was a disappointing read, and I doubt I’ll pick up anything else by this author.