Release Date: May 1, 2018
Series: A Westcott Novel
Heat Level: Warm
Publisher: Penguin Group
Price: $7.99 $1.99
Full disclosure, I had a difficult time getting into this book and even getting through it. Ms. Balogh is normally a big draw for me – I love most of her books – but for some reason I struggled to get into this 4th book in her Wescott series. It is extremely well written and her characters are brilliant, as usual, but so many factors of this story just did not do it for me.
Viola Kingsley has had her life torn apart through no fault of her own. The life she once knew is lost to her and its time to move on and start anew… if only she could bring herself to commit to do it. She is angry and sick of trying to please her family and pretend that she is settled with her new circumstances. So, when a man she once discarded for a different life enters her new one unexpectedly, she takes the chance to escape for just a brief while.
Marcel Lamarr, Marquess of Dorchester, has had his fair share of tragic circumstances and years of living a life that just didn’t feel like it fit. He is restless and discontented and just begging for a change. When he encounters Viola, the woman who scorned him so many years ago, he can’t forget the way she made him feel and all the warm fuzzies she STILL makes him feel. A sensual encounter and a chance to forget his responsibilities for even a few days is exactly what he needs but will a casual encounter ensnare them both in a way they will not be able to escape a second time…
I love the concept of a second chance at love – both main characters have had previous marriages – but when said characters are in the 40’s with adult children, it just doesn’t feel like the typical period romance that I find myself interested in. Don’t get me wrong, the simpering virgin bride annoys the heck out of me and is so unrealistic given modern sensibilities. But, as much as I might relate to an older heroine more than a younger one, I feel like this novel was better suited for a modern romance than a historical one. Not that older characters didn’t find love in the 1800’s… but I don’t read romance for its realism but more for a little escape from my own reality for a few hundred pages. That said, Ms. Balogh has still written a lovely romance that might really attract a wide audience but the concept just wasn’t for me.
I really loved Viola’s character in the pervious books in the series so I was excited to read her story and see her get a happy ending. But, this book opened a window to a woman I found that I didn’t like as much as I did previously. She has a touch of the poor-me syndrome and as much as I understand wanting to get away from it all, her escape is a little selfish as are many of her comments and actions throughout the book which also annoyed me. But her journey to becoming a better lover, mother and person is quite lovely so I didn’t close the book disliking her.
Marcel is also not the most likeable man. I think his personality and his actions over the course of the last 20 years are part of what made it hard for me to get invested in this story. He lost his first wife tragically when they were very young and has spent his life in a debauched haze of women and ignoring his children. Any man who would let his pain rule his life for so long, comes across as weak and not sexy in my eyes… he even let other people raise his children who he sees once a year. No thanks. He might also have a slightly touching redemption at the end of the book but I could not get past how crappy a parent he was, whatever the reasons.
Overall, I gave the book a 3 knowing that others will find the story touching and authentic. It has some great moments that made me smile and remember why Ms. Balogh is an institution in the romance world but you need to get past the main characters first.