The premise of this book was so intriguing to me: Eva Carin has been committed to a madhouse in Victorian England by her brother-in-law, Thomas, the current Lord Carin. Eva was sent there after the tragic death of her young son, Adam. Viscount Ian Blake, a childhood friend of Eva, arrives back in England after being in the military in India. He discovers Eva has been sent to the asylum by Thomas and is determined to find out what happened to her. He also wants to apologize to her because he did not keep Hamilton, his best friend and Eva's husband, safe in India, making Eva a widow. Throw Ian grabbing Eva in a daring escape from the madhouse, and Eva's laudanum addiction, and the story is looking very good.
The theme of this book is "mistakes" - all the characters have made mistakes which have affected other characters in the book. I'd say most of the mistakes originated with the former Lord Carin, Hamilton and Thomas's father. This causes a rift between Hamilton and his best friend Ian, that follows them for the rest of their lives.
However, I found the middle of the book, after the escape from the asylum, to be somewhat disjointed in places. Eva and Ian would be having a conversation when suddenly Ian would grow angry and stop talking with her. I would read back a few paragraphs but couldn't find the reason for his sudden mood swing. There's even a sex scene where I couldn't figure out where Eva and Ian were and what time it was. She is in a robe so I assume it is after dark - are they in Eva's room? Ian's room? One of the public rooms? And, Eva's laudanum addiction, which I thought would be very interesting and run through the book, comes to a somewhat quick conclusion after the first few chapters focusing on it. Another thing is that new characters just pop into the story with no background. The Earl of Wyndham is apparently one of Ian's friends but we don't get introduced to him until more than halfway through the book - how old is he? How long has Ian known him?
The storyline does pick up more at the end when Eva has faced her demons and now Ian must face his. The flashbacks from India are heartbreaking and interestingly, are all shown from Hamilton's point-of-view. The result, at least to me, was to make Hamilton a somewhat more tragic and sympathetic character and really showed the horror of what happened to Hamilton - I'm not sure that was where the author was going with that because it made me not like Ian as much.
Some threads of the overall story are missing and some neatly resolved. For example, what happened to Mrs. Palmer, the owner of the asylum? And, I thought the scenes with the gardener and his wife at the end were too neat and tidy and unrealistic.
I do think Maire Claremont has a good voice, it just appeared to me that either too much of the story had been cut in revisions or maybe certain scenes needed to be tied together better to form more of a flow. (Note: I received this ebook from the author for an honest review)