This was my first book by Carolyn Jewel and at the beginning I was very excited, because the story seemed very promising. I especially loved that our hero is not drop-dead gorgeous (far from it!), as almost every romance hero invariably is. Edward, Marquess of Foye, is definitely not one of those heroes - quite the opposite in fact: "With a face that defined 'ill made' and a body that tended to intimidate by sheer size - he had always been prone to muscle - Foye was used to women looking past him or away from him" (p8).
Throughout, Edward remained an enjoyable hero and I found him to be a very sweet and "nice-guy" type of leading man. He's intelligent and confident, but also sensitive and vulnerable. His feelings towards Sabine never waver and really come across to the reader. I also greatly enjoyed the first few interactions between the two of them. Unfortunately, after that it went downhill ...
I did not like the huge age difference, though if not mentioned all the time one can usually overlook those (she's 23 and he's 38).
I did not like that what usually takes an entire book to sort out happened by p89 - they've declared their feelings, are in love, want to marry when possible.
I did not like that Sabine is so standoffish - understandably, due to her past - with Foye, they then kiss in the 60s (pages), and then everything for her is turned around. Granted, she already starts to be nicer towards him once she discovers that he has good intentions and that he actually objected to what was said that ended up ruining her. Still, she did a very quick 180 there.
I did not like that Sabine was sometimes extremely overemotional and melodramatic. I also didn't like her constant dialogue with herself when she's having to wear her disguise as she and Foye travel, always telling herself she has to embody this role, this is what the person would do, she can't think of herself as Sabine, on and on and ON! Got to be very exasperating.
I did not like that the subplot overshadowed the romance for most of the mid-section of the book - and it wasn't a great one to begin with. It also ends COMPLETELY anti-climactically.
I did not like that there are about 5 different ending ploys. What I'm referring to are those events in romances that catapult us towards the HEA and that set everything right in the end - sometimes it's the hero or heroine almost dying, the murderer being caught, some big secret being revealed, a realization on his or her part that they love the other, etc. Well this book had about 5 of those until all I could think was Enough already!!!
I did not like that Sabine never EVER calls the hero Edward - the most familiar she gets with him is calling him Foye. One even wonders if she knows his first name, since she never even thinks it (refers to him as such in her mind) and I'm not sure they're introduced to one another with full names.
There were more things I didn't like, but I'll stop there.
I think what would have been best was if we had pages 1-66 stayed as they were, which is at the point where Sabine has started to let her guard down and Edward is really becoming entranced and attracted to her. Then the majority of the book could have been them developing an emotional and intellectual connection, without a mystery subplot - their characters were interesting enough to be able to carry the book by themselves, no need for another story thread. Their physical connection would also of course develop and then there could be pages 67-89, with the obstacles they face being both of them making the final leap and them getting her uncle's blessing. Voila, done, it's a wrap!
Unfortunately, I cannot even say that I would recommend getting this from the library (which is thankfully what I did). The author does have the ability to write intriguing characters, great chemistry, and some good dialogue, so I will be giving her another chance and hope that her other books surpass this one.