Author: Darcy Burke
Genre: Novella, Victorian-England Era Historical Romance
Rating: 4 Stars
Description/Synopsis: To set things right, she has to be very wrong…
Former constable Daniel Carlyle hasn’t the foggiest notion how to be a viscount. No one is more shocked than he when his father’s second cousin and his son die on the same day. When a prominent earl offers to guide Daniel through Society and the House of Lords, he’s grateful to have a champion. Things seem to be falling into place when he meets a lovely young woman he intends to make his viscountess. Until he catches her stealing from his mentor.
The moment Jocelyn Renwick glimpses her family’s stolen heirlooms in the possession of a wealthy earl, she demands their return. He dismissively insists they’ve been in his family for generations, and she privately vows to get them back at any cost. But the law-abiding Lord Carlyle foils her plans, and she reluctantly partners with him to solve the theft of her property. When they discover the earl is up to his ears in criminal acts, he threatens to link Daniel to his gang of thieves. Jocelyn must decide if justice for her family is worth risking a chance at love.
WARNING – SPOILERS WILL ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – DETAILED REVIEW BELOW
Honestly, I’m not a big fan of Novellas. I don’t like writing them, and I don’t like reading them. Why? Because I want to get so engrossed in the stories I’m reading that I can flip through 400+ pages and still think it’s too short. When a book really is short (200 pages or less) it feels like I’ve missed part of the story – not to mention novellas seem have a bad habit of being written in a very quick manner. Sometimes information is glossed over, there’s tons of time jumps, or worse: the ending comes out of nowhere – quick and wrapped in a little sparkly bow. Man that irritates me.
That being said, I can assure you that when a novella does cross my desk, 98% of the time it’s a complete accident. Like this one.
Did I like this story? No. I loved it. This is one of the few novella’s I’ve run across that was nicely paced, descriptive, took it’s time with the characters, but still managed to work in a solid plot. I couldn’t have asked for more. The general character premise was a little tired, I’ll admit: it’s the same old story of the nearly-shelved society darling meets the recently-appointed society prince, BUT I won’t hold that against it. It doesn’t bother me when stories have cliche ideas as long as I find the book engaging. As far as I’m concerned, it’s like picking up an old favorite – a familiar plot – and seeing it reworked in a new way with unique characters.
A few things that did stick out at me though were (A) the fact that throwing all society-manners to the wind, the two main characters hooked up with very little thought to the fact that the female lead would be “ruined”, as is generally the case in these sorts of novels. This bugs me a little, just because I’ve read a lot of Victorian-england era romance novels, and I know that this practice is generally frowned upon. That aside, it was only a minor twitch at the edge of my periphery because it showed the characters had passion for each other. Neither one of them was right in the thick of society (him being new to it and her being thrust off in a corner somewhere) so it didn’t matter so much in their situation.
The other issue I had (B) was that the ending did wrap up a little too quickly for my tastes. After the main female lead (I’m sorry, I can’t be bothered to look up their names, I finished reading this yesterday and it’s been a long day) gets kidnapped and held hostage and several people have died… well, it cast a bit of a sour shadow to the ending. It was hard to be happy for the couple who were rushing into a marriage (though awwwwww… they luff each other) when they’d both just witnessed two murders and they were letting a criminal get away scot-free. It didn’t feel very heroic, and to immediately follow it with a chapter where they were already married and living together… I don’t know. I guess it felt like I’d missed the happy punchline somewhere in that mess.
Those things aside though, it was a great afternoon read, and a nice change of pace to read something so well-written. I needed a break from being inside Calliope Reaper-Jones’ whiney, juvenile head.