It’s not often that I read a Historical Romance that has the heroine cast as the black sheep of her family, so I was particularly intrigued by the heroine of this book, Sophia. Sophia eloped with a thoroughly unsuitable man and has been out of her family’s good graces ever since. Her husband died and she has since started to contemplate changing her ways and eating some crow in order to reconcile with them. She has no money so she turns to gambling (a favored pastime of hers) to avoid having to fund her journey home by working on her back. Unfortunately she wins money off a man who does not accept losing and has to leave town quickly. This leads her to Paris where she gets a job as a card dealer at a friend’s club. Before Sophia knows it she finds herself face to face with the hero, Dominic, who she shared a steamy kiss with before she was married.
I really liked that Dominic and Sophia were not the typical HR characters. Sophia in particular was a surprising heroine. She was confident, independent, and had recklessness in spades. I loved that she was so different, but I have to admit that I struggled with her character in the beginning. Her recklessness did not rub me right and she often felt thoughtless. Dominic also sidesteps the typical HR hero mold by being a successful actor and gambler to boot. Both of them had similar passionate, reckless personalities so their romance had its share of bumps in the road.
Although I found this book an easy read I wasn’t very wowed by it. There was enough of it that I liked to keep me from lowering my grade too much, but for the most part I was pretty ‘meh’ about it. One thing that kept me removed from the story was the weak romance. I couldn’t seem to feel any emotion between the leads despite the fact that they spent a ton of time together. There was just no spark. The author also did a lot of ‘telling’ instead of ‘showing’. I constantly heard how mysterious and interesting the leads were but I didn’t feel that at all. Just repeating the description ‘mysterious’ again and again does not actually make the character seem mysterious. It just draws attention to the fact that the character is not very mysterious at all.
Sophia and Dominic are apparently in the middle of a family feud, although Sophia’s family doesn’t seem to know anything about it. Dominic kept plotting to hurt her family by using her as his weapon, but it all seemed pretty ridiculous to me. For a family that is supposedly ruled by their hatred of the Huntingtons (Sophia’s family) they don’t spend a lot of time devoted to it. If Dominic hadn’t mentioned the hatred his family has for hers you would have never known it. And why is their hooking up such a big thing for Dominic’s family? There’s already a marriage between the two branches that happened in the first book in the series. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like less of an issue the second time around, especially because everyone already accepts the previous marriage. This big hatred that was such a big deal felt like a throwaway plot detail. If it was supposed to be more important I would have appreciated it being developed more.
At the beginning of every chapter we’re treated to excerpts from the diary of Mary St. Claire Huntington, who was witness to the beginning of the split between the families. Unfortunately I felt these excerpts added nothing to the book. They were boring and weren’t crafted to move you or reveal any surprising truths. It felt like a missed opportunity to bring emotion to the book.
I have to take a moment here to talk about how odd I found the sexy parts of this book. It felt like a pretty typical HR and then boom the heroine’s taking the hero to a dildo shop and he’s buying her one. WTF? And her being so open about tying the hero up for sex was another off note for me! I’m not against this sort of thing in an HR, but it felt so out of place here. The emotion in the romance itself was so muted that dildo shopping busting onto the scene stood out like a sore thumb.
My interest was piqued by the hints dropped about a past romance gone wrong with Sophia’s cousin and Dominic’s brother, but I’m not sure I’ll continue with this series and try it out. I read reviews of the first book and found quite a few mentions of the same problems there that I had with this book. I’ll have to wait and see if I eventually want to bite the bullet and try again.