This is one of those books where I’m not quite sure to begin with addressing my feelings towards it. The book starts out with an interesting enough premise, with the heroine being the older one in the relationship as opposed to the usual age gap with the older man pursuing the younger woman. But so much of this book was a disappointment to me that I just couldn’t bring myself to enjoy it. There were times when I would read whole pages and my mind would blank so badly that I had no idea what I had just read. I rarely missed important plot points during this bit, but it was frustrating to have to go back and read it again.
This book is yet another that includes attempted rape as an excuse to save the heroine. I’m sick of seeing this in almost every novel I read anymore. It automatically makes the heroine indebted to the hero in a sexual manner and it just ruins the entire relationship for me because we no longer have a relationship of equals. If we must continue with this trend, why can’t a good friend rescue the heroine, or someone who has absolutely no sexual interest in the heroine and never will?
Beyond that complaint, the sex scenes were as forgettable as the rest of the book, and the big secret that Honoria is carrying around is ridiculous. Because of societal standards, she fakes a marriage and subsequently fakes being a widow, all so she can survive under the terms of her benefactor’s will. For some reason, this makes her believe that she is a terrible excuse for a human being who does not deserve something as simple as love. Say it with me ladies; doing what is necessary to survive does not make you a terrible person and is not cause for massive angst that ensued from a forty year old woman whose age I forgot most of the time because her maturity level fluctuated as plot dictated.
The book had the potential to get deep with the child prostitution ring Honoria was investigating and the fact that Lord Devin’s brother may have participated in homosexual practices. His brother’s strong assurances that he was perfectly straight almost made the book seem to scream “No homo!” while ignoring the fact that even the rumor of homosexuality at the time, whether or not it was practiced, would have amounted to a good deal of trouble for all involved. Not to mention the only other time homosexuality is mentioned in the book, it’s in conjunction with pedophiles and child prostitution. As for the child prostitution scandal, well, it’s quite nicely tied up at the end within five pages and without much conflict. It’s almost as if something as damaging and serious as child prostitution was simply a plot device for the hero and heroine to meet.
The book does have it’s merits. It does seriously explore the notion of a marriage between a lord and a woman who is older and likely can’t bear him any heirs. But then she’s pregnant by the end anyway, so any objections to the relationship on account of her age are moot by the end of the book. I can really only recommend it for someone looking for a quick romp in 1851 romances.