Hello peoples! So I am finally back with an actual book review, and you know, for a person who pretends not to read romance, I end up reviewing quite a bit of romance. Perhaps I should just quit pretending and accept that I am a romantic. At least a little bit.
Anywho. To the book!
With the protestant Elizabeth on the throne of England and her family in shambles, Catholic maiden Gwyneth seeks refuge in the Low Countries of Holland, hoping to soothe her aching soul. But when the Iconoclastic Fury descends and bloodshed overtakes her haven, she has no choice but to trust the rogue who arrives, promising to see her safely home to her uncle’s castle. She doesn’t dare to trust him…and yet doesn’t dare to refuse her one chance to preserve her own life and those of the nuns she rescues from the burning convent.
Dirk Godfrey is determined to restore his honor at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk knows he has only one chance at redemption, and it lies with the lovely Gwyneth, who hates him for the crimes she thinks he committed. He must see her to safety, prove to the world that he is innocent, prove that her poor eyesight is not the only thing that has blinded her but what is he to do when those goals clash?
The home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, the saint and the sinner must either dare to hold to hope…or be overcome.
While I did enjoy this plot for the most part, I felt like the pacing was a little off. Like, I could technically see how there were still plotlines to be resolved, but at the same time, I felt like the story was going on too long. I wasn’t bored–I mean, really, I was enjoying it—but I felt like everything that needed to be said or done had already been said or done, so I couldn’t figure out why there was still so much of the story left Admittedly, that may have been more me than an actual problem with the plot or pacing, but it is how I felt as I was reading.
Even with that though, I’d still rate this plot pretty high: it started out A+ intense, stayed pretty interesting throughout the novel, and ends pretty epically–so I guess maybe that’s why it was still going.
Plot: 3 1/2 stars out of 5.
It’s often hard for me to like the female mains in historical romance novels, because they’re often, well, kind of weak. But even though Gwyn had her difficulties and several seemingly irrational moments, she still shone with strength throughout most of the novel and, by the end, I even understood the reasons behind her weaker moments. Plus, it was clear that she at least tried to stand on her own and rely as much as she could on herself. It made her reactions seem a little illogical at times (which was somewhat irksome), but the attempt at independence was unique from the rest of what I’d read of this genre, and the more I thought about it, the more I liked the hidden character that it showed.
Dirk. Dirk was an interesting fellow. I liked him: he was amusing, brave, honorable, your classic swashbuckling hero (though without a ship this time). He didn’t feel cliche though, mostly due to his spiritual struggles, as he strove to turn away from his past way of life and head towards a new life in Jesus. It was actually very interesting to see that classic hero receive a uniquely Christian approach, and I really ended up enjoying the end result.
Characters: 3 1/2 stars out of 5.
I loved the writing in this book. It was just so powerful; especially in the really intense or emotional scenes, it was like I was there, hearing the screams rip the walls, or the characters’ hearts pounding with terror, or feeling the pain cleaving their souls into pieces. Even in the, well, less life-threatening sections, the details always did a beautiful job of setting the scene, the symbolism was strong but not overly sentimental, and it was clear from the start that the author had a firm handle on the period language: she knew when she wanted to go and she expertly took her readers there.
Writing Style/Setting: 5 stars out of 5.
And so we come in right around 4 stars out of 5. Even though I had problems with some parts of this book, in the end, I did enjoy it overall. It’s a powerful, slightly less romantic romance with more plot to carry it than most of the ones I’ve read. If you’d like to pick up a copy for yourself, you can get it on Amazon for $14.99.
Question time! What’ve you lot been reading lately? What’s next on your TBR? Who’s your favorite swashbuckling hero, or romance novel heroine? Leave me a comment and let me know. I can’t wait to hear from you all. 🙂