I know that authors sometimes read the reviews of their books, and I believe that this may be Ms. Wysong's first novel. I don't like hurting anyone's feelings and I hate to write negative reviews, but I also feel a responsibility to my fellow readers to give an honest opinion of any books I read. This is especially true because I rely heavily on the reviews of others when deciding whether or not to purchase and read a book.
First off, I have to give Ms. Wysong credit for actually creating an interesting plot. One thing that was apparent to me from reading this book is that Ms. Wysong has a creative mind. Furthermore, the writing is quite good. When I read the book blurb I was so excited and looked forward to reading this book. I love historical romances and am always looking for ones with unique plots or plots with a new twist. This book seemed like it would fall into one of those two categories.
Alas, very shortly after I started reading I realized that I wasn't going to enjoy the story. This was not because the story is boring, or the writing bad, but because the language and behavior of the characters is way too modern. Phrases like "skating on thin ice," "put two and two together," "hit rock bottom," and the like, are used continually throughout the story, both in the characters' dialogue and thoughts, as well as in the narrated portions of the book.
Then there is behavior of the characters that did not fit with the times, such as when Caraline "pulled up her simple muslin dress to reveal her belly to Sarah...." This she did while sitting in Sarah's sitting room! And that's just one example of many. I'm not sure in what year the book is set because, while the primary mode of transportation is horses and carriages, the author has cits mixing with the aristocrats and that did not happen until sometime in the 1900's with the advent of the industrial revolution. For instance, we are told that Caraline's father is a banker (doesn't that make him a Cit?), yet he and his wife frequently attend balls with the aristocracy.
Titles and proper forms of address are not adhered to, and indeed, just about everyone is referred to by their first names. I am by no means a historical purist. I am always more than willing to allow authors creative license to bend and twist the rules of society normally adhered to during the time period in which a story is set. However, in this instance it was just too much.
It is obvious that the author was neither familiar with, nor researched, the time period in which she set her story (or if she is familiar with it, she decided to disregard the rules of society of the period.)
The heroine, Caraline, has no intention of ever getting married, but her parents (or rather, her mother) are bound and determined to see her married to a wealthy man who can help to raise their social status. Caraline's parents are evil.....they are not just unkind, uncaring, negligent, and/or disinterested parents. They are over the top EVIL!
*SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER*
Caraline suffers sexual and physical abuse at the hands of her father. We are told that her mother was not only aware of his conduct, but also, on at least one occasion, stood guard outside Caraline's bedroom door while her raped his daughter. Furthermore, Caraline is sexually assaulted and beaten by another man at the instigation of her father (this occurs after her parents abandon her on the streets in the slums of London for a year!). When she ends up pregnant, she is sent to a nunnery where she ultimately loses the baby. All this information the reader learns after the fact (you don't actually read it.) Then there is the fact that her father is trying to sell Caraline as a mistress!
*END OF SPOILER*
The hero, Alexander, is the third son of a Duke. He is also a brother of Caraline's best friend, Jane. Alexander has loved Caraline for many years, but of course, she is not interested. Alex is determined to win Caraline as his bride. His devotion to her is very sweet.
You should be aware that this is a Christian historical romance. Alexander and his family are deeply religious, as are several other characters throughout the book. The story that unfolds encompasses Caraline's journey to accepting God, and thus salvation, into her life. The religious aspect of the story is pervasive, so if you're not into Christian historical novels this not the book for you. On the other hand, this is a clean romance....some kissing but no sex.
The story of how Alex finally wins his lady love is interesting, but I felt removed from the characters. They were ok, but I could not really relate to them. At the end of the day, I cannot recommend this book. It is a good first try by the author, and had she set her story in a more modern setting I might have enjoyed it. If you are a historical romance purist, then this is not the book for you. The same is true if you do not care for Christian romance novels.