I have really enjoyed the ‘proper romance’ books from Shadow Mountain publishing over the years and their covers are so great. Every time I see one of them I know that I am instantly going to enjoy the book. Some more than others of course, but generally their proper romances are all great reads and for me, they read very quick.
When this one came up for review, I knew it was an easy yes. It sounded so great, an arranged marriage and two characters that ultimately fall in love against all odds. I had read a couple of other reviews before picking this one up and saw that many reviewers noted it was a slow burn romance and I love slow burn romances. So needless to say I was eager to check this one out.
If historical romance is your jam, then you should definitely check out Shadow Mountain publisher because they have a number of titles to choose from and many of them are off the beaten path and charming. I adore their titles. While I didn’t love this one as much as I had anticipated, it was still a good read and I am glad that I picked it up!
Isabelle Rackham knows she will not marry for love. Though arranged marriages have fallen out of fashion, hers has been settled for some time. Alexander Osgood is handsome, well-known, and wealthy, but he is distant and aloof, spending much of his time at his textile mill.
Moreover, Northern England is nothing like Isabelle’s home in the Lake Country, and her marriage is far from the fairy tale she expected. Conversations with Alexander are awkward, when they happen at all, and Isabelle struggles with loneliness.
Sensing his wife’s unhappiness, Alexander brings Isabelle to his country estate. During their time together, the couple begins to build a friendship, opening up to each other about the details of their lives. But when a tragic accident leaves Alexander unable to walk, their fledgling relationship is tested.
Isabelle is determined to see to her husband’s recovery, and in caring for him, she discovers within herself an untapped well of strength and courage. In learning to rely on each other, the couple has an opportunity to forge a love connection that they both have longed for but never dreamed could be. (summary from Goodreads)
I think the biggest issue I had with this one was Isabelle. I didn’t love her as a main character. I felt like she needed a little more ‘umph’ in the confidence department. I found her to be a little too timid/weak for the role of romantic heroine. I would have liked to have seen a little more fire from her as the story went on. She wasn’t awful but as a strong female reader, I wanted to see just a bit more to recommend her as the lead. I also found the detached POV a little difficult. I wanted to form a connection with the characters and I just didn’t get that with this POV.
Now readers of proper romances will know that the ‘romance’ parts her heavy on the clean side and more sweet than spicy, and this book did have a sweet romance but it took us a while to get there. It is a romance in reverse with the two characters already being married and then falling in love, and yes I knew it would be a slow burn, but I didn’t really feel a connection or even a real romantic element until over half way through. I think part of that was due to Alexander. I didn’t really start to like him until about half way through so I think that was part of the problem for me.
I know a lot of readers loved this one and it did have some great points. It felt different and I felt that it had a strong historical background. Many reviews have likened it to North and South with the textile parts and I agree. I liked the historical elements and thought it added authenticity to the story and it’s a favorite time period of mine so I enjoyed that. I also liked that the author took a bold new approach to romance in this one. I liked that Isabelle had to care for her paralyzed husband. It’s a troupe that isn’t all that common which made it feel fresh and new to me.
While I might not have loved this one, there were some great parts and I am not sorry I read it. It was an ok read that I finished up in a couple of days and enjoyed. If you like clean historical romances this one is for you!
Book Info and Rating
Format324 pages, Paperback
Published May 4, 2021 by Shadow Mountain
ISBN9781629728476 (ISBN10: 1629728470)
Free review copy provided by publisher, Shadow Mountain in partnership with Austen Prose blog tour, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 3 stars
Genre: historical romance, historical fiction, romance