|Print // Kindle // Jayne Fresina|
Scarred in a childhood accident, Sophia Valentine doesn't expect any takers on her ad for a husband in the Farmer's Gazette, until the mysterious Lazarus Kane shows up at her door. To Sophia, he is an exciting, enigmatic stranger. But Lazarus has known Sophia for years and has come a long way to find her. Things are about to get complicated for the mischievous Miss Valentine.
I was actually quite a bit let down by this book. The heroine is significantly older than most leading historical romance ladies (she's 29 and a half), the hero has a murky past that the heroine is part of and that might be entangled with other characters as well and the heroine is quite the spitfire so I went into the book believing it would be a great read.
Except...I got tired of it rather quickly. I'm not sure what it was honestly. Maybe because Sophie seemed less like an opinionated, liberated woman and more like a headstrong, stubborn child most times. Then there's Lazarus who, if he isn't pressing his very seductive suit of Sophie, is gadding about wondering how to seduce her or wondering about his secrets. There's not much dimension to either one, even after we learn all their secrets.
And this doesn't even speak of the only slightly hinted at bombshell dropped in the last couple of chapters. It came out of nowhere and seemed almost a convenient way to tie up that loose end.
Honestly this book just didn't grab me. It was okay, but the execution felt plodding and some storylines were drawn out a really long time for the sake of filling the pages I think. I did appreciate that the hero comes (almost) completely clean to the heroine before anyone else can tell her. He didn't hold back either, he was quite truthful and perhaps a bit too forthright. To her credit Sophie doesn't react immediately in favor or not. She listened without judgement and then went to gather more information, presenting that information as evidence in his defense later on.
Also, though this part I'm a little hazy on, I think Sophie is older then Lazarus? His age isn't explicitly stated (not that I read anyhow, but I do admit to skimming some chapters when it was just more angsting on either of their parts), but if he's 14 in the first chapter and ten years passed, that would make him 24? Maybe 25? He seems older then that.